EU pushes for Syria talks to continue despite ongoing violence

Published December 4th, 2016 - 08:00 GMT
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini at EU headquarters in Brussels, May 27, 2015. (AFP/File)
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini at EU headquarters in Brussels, May 27, 2015. (AFP/File)

The EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said Saturday that talks to end the five-year conflict in Syria should continue regardless of the ongoing fighting on the ground.

"Maybe it is time to sound the ground with the regional powers and also with international players on what kind of future Syria could have even in the moment when the fight still is going on in Aleppo and elsewhere," Mogherini said during a high-level panel discussion held in the Italian capital Rome.

"Many conflicts have found political solutions, negotiated solutions even during the fighting," she told the panel titled "Rome 2016 Mediterranean Dialogues: Beyond turmoil, a positive agenda".

She also said: "I don't think it is correct from our side to say (...) 'well Aleppo is gone, is lost, let's think the next step.'"

For more than three months, eastern Aleppo has reeled under a crippling regime-imposed siege, while more than 750 civilians have been killed since mid-November in regime attacks on the city.

"I still feel that we have a political, a moral duty and responsibility; first to protect the civilians, humanitarian corridors to let the civilians out of the city," said Mogherini.

"Second I still feel that we have a political responsibility and humanitarian responsibility and duty to call for stop of the strikes," she added. "War is war and civilians need to be protected even in times of war."

The French capital Paris is to host a high-level meeting between countries supporting the moderate Syrian opposition in early December, as France's Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault confirmed on Nov. 24.

The United States, France, Germany, Italy, Britain and Turkey will attend, as well as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.

Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests -- which erupted as part of the "Arab Spring" uprisings -- with unexpected ferocity.

Since then, hundreds of thousands of people are believed to have been killed and millions more displaced by the conflict.


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