International mediator Lakhdar Brahimi apologized to the Syrian people on Saturday for the lack of progress at peace talks in Geneva after their second round ended with little more than an agreement to meet again, Reuters reports. The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) also stressed the meager results so far, saying the evacuation from the city of Homs did not herald any wider improvement in humanitarian access to Syria's civil war zones, where the United Nations says it cannot reach up to 3 million people in need.
"I am very very sorry and I apologize to the Syrian people that their hopes which were very very high here, that something will happen here," Brahimi told journalists after the talks.
However, he added, the Syrian government wanted to first deal with the issue of combating terrorism - the word it uses to described armed opposition to Assad's rule - and had refused to deal with any other points until that was resolved. Brahimi said he hoped that assertions by the government that it will implement the Geneva communiqué means that in the future it is willing to discuss the formation of an interim government with full powers.
Barack Obama said on Friday he was considering new ways to pressure Assad but did not expect the conflict to be resolved any time soon. However, Obama told reporters in California that "there are going to be some immediate steps that we have to take to help the humanitarian assistance there".
ICRC President Peter Maurer said in a statement that the Syrian government and opposition still do not honor basic tenets of international humanitarian law despite the evacuation of besieged Syrians from Homs.
There were many other besieged areas besides Homs, he said, with over 1 million people living in very difficult conditions.
"Negotiations with the Syrian authorities and opposition groups have not resulted in meaningful access or a firm commitment to respect the basic principles of international humanitarian law," he said. "This pattern has again played out in Homs over the last week."