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Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad told a news conference on Sunday the government would let women and children leave the city center if rebels gave them safe passage. U.N. mediator Brahimi said he understood they would be free to leave Homs immediately.
Western diplomats said the Syrian government should move quickly to allow aid in or face a possible U.N. Security Council resolution, with Russia and China being urged to reverse their opposition to such a move.
"The ball is still in the regime's court. We understand that a report has gone back to Damascus seeking instructions," one diplomat said.
In Homs itself, opposition activists said rebels demanded a complete end to the blockade, not just a limited ceasefire. An online video showed demonstrators with Islamist flags denouncing the Geneva II talks as "treachery.”
It highlighted one of the difficulties of the Geneva II talks – the opposition delegation only represents some of the rebel factions on the ground.
Brahimi acknowledging the slow start to proceedings, which began with a formal international conference on Wednesday.
"This is a political negotiation ... Our negotiation is not the main place where humanitarian issues are discussed," said Brahimi.
"But I think we all felt ... that you cannot start a negotiation about Syria without having some discussion about the very, very bad humanitarian situation that exists," he said.
Diplomats officially disavow any possibility of partition, but Syria is already splintering along sectarian lines
Many expect a stalemate in Geneva, but both sides have learned the lesson that they can't win every battle