UN chief presses US, Russia for Geneva II resumption

UN chief presses US, Russia for Geneva II resumption
Sat Feb 1, 2014 17:55:32

The United Nations secretary-general has pressed the US and Russian to help ensure that peace talks aimed at resolving the Syrian crisis would soon resume as Russian foreign minister insists that it would be "very difficult" to push Damascus to make further concessions.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told a conference of global security officials in Munich on Saturday that he urged Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry at a meeting on the sidelines "to use their influence to ensure the talks proceed as scheduled on February 10."

The development came after a week of Geneva II peace talks ended on Friday with no concrete progress and no immediate commitment from Syrian envoys to return for more meetings with the Western-backed opposition figures on February 10, as suggested by mediator and UN-Arab League Syria envoy Lakhdar Brahimi.

Ban further urged the warring parties to "come back with more sense of earnestness as well as seriousness and urgency." Specifically, he called on "both sides and the government in particular to allow the unfettered access required under international humanitarian law."

Ban also said, "It is hard going but we have made a start."

"The parties may still be fighting but now they are also talking - this is the only hope for a political solution," he added.

An agreement to allow aid convoys into the central Syrian city of Homs has remained stalled, with the government and opposition accusing each other of holding up the aid delivery into the city, which has been under siege for nearly two years.

Lavrov, meanwhile, insisted that "Russia can do nothing alone" and urged the US and others to exert their influence on the Syrian opposition.

Lavrov further emphasized that the humanitarian situation in Syria is "outrageous" but insisted that "we've got to be realistic," arguing that the Syrian government is willing to deliver aid to Homs and deliveries to other cities, such as Aleppo and suburbs of Damascus, should also be an issue.


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