UN envoy urges Russia and the US to ‘revitalize’ Syrian peace negotiations

Published April 28th, 2016 - 06:27 GMT
UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura expressed deep frustration about an escalation in fighting in Syria, which all but torpedoed the talks. (AFP/File)
UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura expressed deep frustration about an escalation in fighting in Syria, which all but torpedoed the talks. (AFP/File)

UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura early Thursday called on the United States and Russia to "revitalize" the truce in Syria to give peace talks a chance to make progress.

Russia and the US need to bring the cessation of hostilities back to the level it was at when it first went into effect in late February and early March, de Mistura said after concluding the latest round of peace talks in Geneva.

He expressed deep frustration about an escalation in fighting in Syria, which all but torpedoed the talks.

"How can you have substantial talks when you have only news about bombing and shelling?" De Mistura said during a news conference. "It is something that even I find difficult. Imagine how the Syrians feel."

"We need that initiative [the truce] to be revitalized," he said, adding that the legacies of both US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin are linked to the Syrian conflict.

But he said the latest round of talks had been marred by continued fighting, describing the truce as "still alive but barely."

In the last 48 hours, he said, an average of one Syrian has been killed every 25 minutes and one Syrian has been wounded every 13 minutes.

De Mistura said some progress was made at the peace talks, especially in the area of political transition, despite the fighting and the depature of opposition representatives last week in protest at the re-escalation of the conflict.

The envoy said he intended to call a new round of talks to take place in May. He did not set a date but said calling for a new round was "urgent."

The UN peacebroker spoke to reporters after briefing the UN Security Council on the latest talks.

He said the parties remaining at the negotiations agreed on a need for a political transition that is overseen by a credible and inclusive governing body.

"No one is doubting any more that there is an urgent need for a true and credible political transition," he said. "The word transition is not taboo any more."

They also agreed that Syria requires a new consitution and that would be the key responsibility of the transitional governing body and that women should enjoy equal rights and representation in every institution.


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