Mr. de Mistura had called the Syrian parties to Geneva hoping to capitalize on a slowdown in fighting across much of the country, the military demise of the Islamic State and an uptick in international diplomacy exemplified by talks on Syria between Presidents Trump and Putin in Vietnam last month.
Once-fractious opposition groups, cut down on the battlefield by the combined muscle of Russian air power, Iranian militias and the Syrian military, arrived in Geneva with a unified platform after issuing a communiqué that said Mr. Assad had to give up power at the start of any political transition.
As a result, the Syrian government’s chief negotiator, Bashar al-Jaafari, delayed his arrival at the talks, broke off for a weeklong trip to Damascus, Syria’s capital, in the middle and left on Thursday denouncing the opposition for setting preconditions in a bid to “blackmail” the process.
Mr. de Mistura expressed disappointment with the opposition’s insistence on ruling out a role for Mr. Assad but said 11 meetings with opposition negotiators in the course of two weeks had constructively explored approaches to holding elections and drafting a new constitution.
His seven meetings with the government delegation never moved beyond terrorism, a topic that has stalled discussion of a political transition in all the previous rounds of talks in Geneva.
“Serious negotiation on a political solution required real political will, not this kind of Ping-Pong, particularly from the government side,” Mr. de Mistura said.
In a breach of diplomatic protocol, the government delegation this week posted a video clip showing Mr. Jaafari in front of a map instructing Mr. de Mistura on terrorist trouble spots across the country.
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