GENEVA — U.N. mediator Lakhdar Brahimi says the first phase of the Syrian peace talks will end Friday, as scheduled, and that the gap between the government and the opposition remains “quite large.”

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Brahimi said he does not expect any substantial achievements over the next two days.

Still, he said, the “ice is breaking slowly.” He said both sides will decide Friday when the second phase will take place.

Earlier Wednesday, both sides managed to discuss the thorniest issue: the opposition’s demand for a transitional government in Syria.

But President Bashar Assad’s adviser, Bouthaina Shaaban, said in an interview with The Associated Press that it would be difficult to even hold a presidential election in Syria, given the raging violence of the civil war, and she rejected a transitional governing body.

Louay Safi, an opposition spokesman, said the issue of a transitional government was put on the table for the first time but the government delegation stuck to its demand that ending terrorism was its top priority.