The UN mediator in the Syrian peace talks cut a frustrated figure yesterday as discussions between the government and opposition groups ended in deadlock.
Lakhdar Brahimi said he was "very, very sorry" and wanted to "apologise to the Syrian people" after the end of the meeting in Geneva - admitting that the talks "had not come out with very much".
Despite agreeing an agenda for a third round of talks - focusing on ending the violence and terrorism, creating a transitional governing body, building national institutions, and reconciliation - Bashar al-Assad's government has refused to discuss the idea of a transitional body until it believes the issue of combating terrorism has been dealt with - meaning that no date has been set for the talks.
"I have suggested that it's not good for the process, it's not good for Syria that we come back for another round and fall into the same trap that we have been struggling with this week and most of the first round," Mr Brahimi said. "So I think it is better that every side goes back and reflects: do they want this process to take place or not?"
William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, has expressed his concerns over the lack of progress. "The failure to agree an agenda for future rounds of talks... is a serious setback in the search for peace in Syria, and the responsibility for it lies squarely with the Assad regime," he said. "This cannot be the end of the road.... We owe it to the people of Syria to do all we can to make progress towards a political solution."