Jan. 23 - Delegations from both sides in the Syrian conflict left Montreux for further talks in Geneva after Wednesday's acrimonious start to the peace process. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
This has served as the backdrop for Syrian peace talks in Switzerland which will move to Geneva Friday. Security is tight as Syria's government and opposition, meeting for the first time, vented mutual hostility Wednesday. Iran, which backs the Syrian government is not represented at the talks, but President Hassan Rouhani attending the nearby World Economic Forum in Davos is calling for free elections in Syria. It's a suggestion that is not going down well as the Syrian opposition heads to Geneva. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE SYRIAN NATIONAL COALITION, BADR JAMOUS, SAYING: "Rouhani's comments that the Geneva conference will not yield results and that fair elections are the only solution, I am surprised at such comments from a politician. What elections is he talking about? Who will vote in them? The seven million refugees in Turkey and Jordan and Lebanon or those who are drowning in sea or those who ended up in Libya or Egypt? Or those under the rubble or the people who are missing in prison and we don't know anything about their fate? A Syrian refugee now living in a camp in Jordan is not optimistic. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) SYRIAN REFUGEE, NAEEM, SAYING: "In our opinion, this conference will not yield any results. The international community is watching idly as the Syrian people are getting killed and displaced. I believe this is not the best way for a solution, there are other paths to be taken which could be more successful. Assad is taking the military road, and after all of this killing, there is no way he will step down as a result of Geneva and hand over the power to the Syrian people. More than 100,000 people have been killed in the war in Syria which began with peaceful protests almost three years ago.