US urges Syria not to disrupt peace talks, rejects Assad as a ‘red line’ for transition

Published March 14th, 2016 - 07:09 GMT
High Negotiations Committee (HNC) spokesman Salem al-Meslet speaks during a press conference on the eve of the second round of Syrian peace talks in Geneva on March 13, 2016. (AFP/Philippe Desmazes)
High Negotiations Committee (HNC) spokesman Salem al-Meslet speaks during a press conference on the eve of the second round of Syrian peace talks in Geneva on March 13, 2016. (AFP/Philippe Desmazes)

US Secretary of State John Kerry has warned of serious consequences if the Bashar al-Assad regime and its allies fail to comply with the terms of the recent cessation-of-hostilities agreement aimed at resolving the five-year old crisis.

Addressing a joint press conference with senior EU diplomats in Paris Sunday, Kerry said: "All the parties need to abide by the cessation of hostilities, they all need to cooperate in delivery of humanitarian assistance, they all need to support real negotiations aimed at Syrian political transition in accordance with the 2012 Geneva Communique and UNSC Resolution 2254".

Sunday's meeting gathered foreign ministers of the US, Italy, U.K. and Germany along with EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini to discuss the fight against Daesh as well as the recent situation in Libya, Yemen and Ukraine.

The cessation-of-hostilities agreement, which came into effect at midnight on Feb. 26, was brokered jointly by Washington and Moscow, which co-chair the International Syria Support Group.

The UN Security Council also agreed to a resolution to that effect as well as urging that humanitarian aid convoys be able to access besieged towns.

Kerry also lashed out at the latest remarks of the regime's Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallim, where he said they would not talk to any party that would want to discuss the future of President Bashar al-Assad in Geneva talks.

U.S. top diplomat said the comments made by Damascus showed that they "clearly tried to disrupt the process" of peace talks.

"Violence by the regime and shelling against the participants, the people inside part of the cessation of hostilities, those bombings must stop," he added.

Kerry further said they offered Russia an opportunity to work with them and fully implement this move to stabilize that region.

"We support UN efforts, we also look forward to the resumption of talks in Geneva on Monday,” he also said.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault also pushed for full compliance with the cessation of hostilities, and voiced support for Syria's moderate opposition in the negotiations expected to resume Monday in Geneva.

UN envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura announced Wednesday that Syria's cessation of hostilities is "open-ended" and "substantive and deeper" talks will start on March 14, with the focus on governance, a constitution and on holding presidential and parliamentary elections within 18 months.

Syrian opposition’s High Negotiations Committee said Friday that it will attend peace talks coming Monday under UN supervision "without preconditions".

"The international community should be clear and resolved on ending the tragedy in Syria. The Syrian people are still being exposed to bombardment, sieges, arbitrary arrests, and forced migration," read the group’s statement.

Syria has been gripped by conflict since 2011, which has killed more than 270,000 people and displaced millions more. 


© Copyright Andolu Ajansi

You may also like