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Syria blames US, Israel for talks deadlock

Syria's regime on Saturday accused Israel and the United States for undermining UN-brokered peace talks and blamed the opposition's refusal to settle the issue of "terrorism" for the deadlock.

GENEVA: Syria's regime on Saturday accused Israel and the United States for undermining UN-brokered peace talks and blamed the opposition's refusal to settle the issue of "terrorism" for the deadlock.

"Everybody is trying his best to undermine the whole process, either Israel or unfortunately the Americans, or even the sponsors of the so-called coalition and the opposition," Syria's top negotiator Bashar Jaafari told reporters after a second round of talks wrapped up fruitlessly.

Jaafari, who is also Syria's ambassador to the United Nations headquarters in New York, pointed to President Barack Obama's pledge on Friday to take unspecified "intermediate steps" to pressure the regime.

He also accused Washington of pushing the Syrian rebels to "escalate militarily" notably by stepping up fighting on the country's southern border with Jordan.

"Those people are not really committed towards guaranteeing the success of the Geneva conference. On the contrary, there was no goodwill at all," Jaafari said.

The Geneva talks, the first round of which was in January, mark the biggest international push to end three years of war in Syria.

They were initiated by the United States, which backs the opposition, and Russia, a key ally of the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

The regime insists the talks must focus on "terrorism" -- its broad-brush term for a rebel movement it claims is fuelled by foreign jihadists and Gulf money.

But the opposition says the negotiations must centre on bringing democracy to Syria, and accuse the regime of terror tactics through its brutal military methods.

Wrangling over the agenda prevented any progress in the second round, which began Monday.

UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi told reporters on Saturday that an agenda had been agreed for a future meeting -- starting with the issue of violence before moving on the following day to political change -- but that the regime rejected that plan.

Jaafari said there was a "very simple reason".

"We cannot move from item one, to item two or item three or item four, without fully considering this item and concluding by a common vision of this item by the two sides," he explained.

Despite the blame-trading and deadlock, Jaafari insisted the process was not over.

"We will be back," he said.

"We don't have an impasse. We are still in negotiation. We didn't say that we failed."

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