Syrian government pushed on Assad's future by ITV News

Boutaina Photo: ITV News

Face to face talks between the Syrian government and the opposition are expected to get underway tomorrow morning in Geneva.

Any progress seemed unlikely for most of the day in Geneva. At one stage the talks were on the verge of collapse, as each side issued threats and ultimatums. As they teetered on the edge, ITV News' Middle East Correspondent Geraint Vincent managed to speak to both sides.

With international divisions over how to end the conflict putting an overall political solution out of reach for now, the two sides will focus on smaller steps.

They will spend the first two days discussing a plan to provide humanitarian access for the city of Homs, where rebels are surrounded in central districts by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, diplomatic sources said.

"The practical aspects have been worked on, things are ready and if the government doesn't put a block on it then it could happen quickly," one of the sources said.

Even with the talks back on track and expected to last a week, deep mutual mistrust and the absence from Geneva of powerful Islamist opposition groups and President Bashar al-Assad's ally Iran make substantial progress very difficult.