Delegations of Syrian government and Syrian National Coalition met "face to face" over one table at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva on Saturday.
However, the level of representation of both delegations was less than what both parties agreed on, following difficult negotiations held a day earlier. Both parties presented the meeting as "a service for Syrian people".
The head of Syrian government delegation, Walid Mouallem and the head of Coalition's delegation, Ahmad Jarba, were both absent from the first session of negotiations. The government's delegation was headed by Bashar Jaafari, while the Coalition's delegation was headed by Hadi al-Bahra.
A high-profile western official told al-Hayat that the opposition "showed seriousness in reaching its goals, as delegation members arrived at United nations headquarters to get into serious negotiations. The expectations were that all regime delegation members will be present, and the government will deal with the negotiations as the opposition does, in order to end the sufferings of Syrian people. But as innocent people are being killed, the regime still plays its games in the negotiations".
In a statement after the session, Jaafari said that: "We are here to protect the interests of our country and continue defending it".
According to Al-Hayat sources, each delegation entered the meeting hall from a different door. The opposition delegation sat on the right of the table, Brahimi sat in the middle and government's delegation sat on the left.
Brahimi explained to both parties the rules of negotiations, stiulating that each party should address him and not each other.
Brahimi stressed the importance of avoiding the media, of self-control and of keeping the documents of negotiations secret.
He reiterated that the goal of negotiations is to apply the declaration of Geneva I, which was issued in June 2012, and which includes the mutual agreement on the formation of transitional governing body.
Brahimi told both delegations that "the basis for these negotiations is the Geneva I initiative, and the goal of these negotiations is to apply the terms of Geneva I. Both parties have already accepted this".
Half an hour later, Brahimi met with each party separately for ten minutes before the end of first negotiation session since the start of the conflict three years ago.
It was noted that neither the Syrian government's two-star flag, nor the independence three-star flag were raised inside the meeting hall. But the members of each delegation hanged his own flag on his chest. Only the flag of the United nations were raised in the hall.
Brahimi held a second session of negotiations later, in which both parties agreed on a schedule for negotiations.
Sources said that the process will begin with a ceasefire agreement, then the delivery of humanitarian aid to the besieged neighborhoods of Homs (on which the opposition is focussed) as wll as its countryside (which the government concentrates on).
Negotiations related to the transitional governing body will start tomorrow.
Following the session, each party tried to clarify his position and justify the reasins for sitting with the other party.
"We didn’t come to talk emotionally. We might be ignoring our pains, but we are serious. We have clear instructions, and we came with open minds and positive attitude to save the country, according to the higher Syrian interests."Jaafari said.
On the other hand, the member of opposition delegation, Anas Abdeh told journalists that "emotions are confused. It is not easy to sit with the delegation that represents the murderers, but we did so in the interests of the Syrian people, the children of Syria and Syria's future".
Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer