Published On: Wed, May 18th, 2016

Major powers fail to agree new date for Syria peace talks

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L), U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (C) and United Nations special envoy on Syria Staffan de Mistura (R) attend the ministerial meeting on Syria in Vienna, Austria, May 17, 2016.    REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L), U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (C) and United Nations special envoy on Syria Staffan de Mistura (R) attend the ministerial meeting on Syria in Vienna, Austria, May 17, 2016. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

Major power foreign ministers failed to agree a new date to resume Syrian peace talks at a meeting on Tuesday, and the opposition said it would not come back to Geneva negotiations unless conditions improved on the ground.

A pessimistic atmosphere pervaded the meeting in Vienna between countries that support President Bashar al-Assad and his enemies, all of which have committed to reviving a ceasefire and peace process that have been unraveling since last month.

In a joint statement after the meeting attended by the United States, European and Middle East powers that oppose Assad as well as Russia and Iran which support him, the powers called for a full cessation of hostilities and access for aid.

In stronger language than in the past, they warned the warring factions that if they repeatedly broke the truce they risked forgoing the protection of the Feb. 27 cessation of hostilities agreement sponsored by Washington and Moscow.

They also directed the U.N.’s World Food Programme to air drop food, medicine and water to besieged communities starting on June 1 if humanitarian access was denied by either side.

But they did not agree on a date for peace talks to resume. The Geneva talks broke up last month after the opposition delegation quit, accusing the government of ignoring the ceasefire, and recent weeks saw an intensification of fighting, particularly near Aleppo, Syria’s largest city before the war.

U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura told a news conference there was still a strong desire to keep the peace process moving.

“We want to keep the momentum. The exact date, I am not at the moment revealing it because it will depend also on other facts,” he said. He noted that the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which begins in early June, was coming soon.

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The main opposition High Negotiations Committee said it was not willing to return to negotiations without a full ceasefire and access for humanitarian aid.

“I don’t think there will be results, and if there are any results they will not be sufficient for the Syrian people,” HNC chief negotiator Asaad al-Zoubi told Reuters ahead of Tuesday’s Vienna meeting. “The HNC has said that if aid does not reach everybody, if the sieges aren’t lifted and if a full truce does not happen, there will be no negotiations.”

After Tuesday’s meetings, the opposition said the powers had rebuked Assad by demanding that aid should reach towns his forces were blockading.

“The Vienna Communiqué listed towns where our fellow Syrians are starving under siege and crying out for humanitarian access,” HNC spokesman Salem al-Meslet said in a statement. “Assad is not only blockading those towns, but also blocking the path to a political solution, which is the only way to end the suffering.”

But HNC member Bassama Kodmani told Reuters the powers must do more to silence the guns: “We cannot be bombed while we’re talking about a peaceful arrangement and a peaceful transition.”

Local truces in individual areas, which have been attempted in recent weeks, would not be a solution. “Peace talks cannot take place while one front is burning and another is quiet,” she said.

 

News Source Reuters

About the Author

Syed Ammar Alavi

- is Lahore (Pakistan) based journalist & writer with 25-year experience in print, wire and broadcast forms of journalism. His major fields of interest are politics, film,tv,sports, climate change and technology