Syria Peace Talks Stop Briefly to Observe War Dead

b_250_0_16777215_00_images_obgrabber_2014-01_8a7875df5b.jpgcreisinger/Thinkstock (GENEVA) -- In a rare display of common ground at their contentious peace talks in Geneva, the Syrian government and opposition forces observed a brief moment of silence Thursday for the victims of the three-year-long civil war. It was the delegation representing the foes of President Bashar al-Assad who made the suggestion while the team from Damascus went along with the request.

As for the rest of Thursday's session, just a day before they wrap up what might be the first of other summits, United Nations special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi told reporters, "We had tense moments and also rather promising moments. This is, unfortunately, a civil war, or a situation of civil war."

No one expected Assad to accede to the opposition's demands that he step down from power in order to form a transitional government that will determine Syria's future going forward. The government says only voters can decide whether to keep Assad as their leader.

Brahimi, who is mediating the negotiations, has said the talks, which got underway late last week, were meant as confidence building measures that will hopefully lead to more discussions down the road.

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