U.N. chief urges for third round of Syria talks

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon addresses the 25th session of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva March 3, 2014. (Reuters)

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon urged on Monday for the need to re-launch the Syrian peace process, stressing that Damascus in particular must return to Geneva with a more “constructive position,” Agence France-Presse reported.

The U.N. secretary general calling to reinstate the peace process was after the failure of the U.N.-led Geneva second round of peace talks on Feb. 15, which ended with no new date set for them to reconvene.

“The only way to end the crisis is through a negotiated solution,” Ban told reporters on the sidelines of the U.N. Human Rights Council.

He added: “We are determined to bring the parties back to the table here in Geneva.”

He said he had had a long talk Sunday with Lakhdar Brahimi, who has been mediating the talks on behalf of the U.N. and the Arab League.

Both concluded that “it is important that the third round of the Geneva conference should be held again as soon as possible,” he said, highlighting that next week would mark three years since the start of the Syrian crisis.

“How long should this situation continue this way,” he said of the conflict which has killed more than 140,000 people and forced millions from their homes.

He stressed though that there was first an “urgent need for the parties, and those with influence over them, to reflect on how the talks can achieve the progress the Syrian people and the region so urgently need.”

The Geneva II talks broke down with the regime insisting on giving priority to “terrorism” it blames on the opposition, which in turn wanted to concentrate on putting in place a transitional government, without President Bashar al-Assad.

The regime delegation balked at Brahimi’s proposal that the parties alternate between the subjects, insisting nothing else could be discussed until the “terrorism” issue had been completely resolved.

“Particularly the Syrian ... government delegation has not been constructively engaging in dialogue,” Ban said, stressing the responsibility of Damascus’s key ally Russia and the United States, which backs the opposition, to push the process forward.

“There must be ... a much stronger political will by the world leaders, particularly leaders who are directly concerned and also those leaders who have influence over the parties in conflict, to resolve all these issues through dialogue,” he said.

Ban meets Lavrov

Ban, who met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva Monday to discuss the crisis in Ukraine but also the Syria conflict, urged any “powers who have influence on the government as well as the opposition forces to exert their influences.”

“All parties (should) come to Geneva as soon as possible with a sincere and constructive position,” he said.

His comments came as news broke that Mokhtar Lamani, who heads Brahimi’s Damascus office, was quitting.

No explanation was given for his departure, but he had expressed disappointment at the failure of the Geneva II talks and argued they had been launched too quickly.

Syrian conflict spillover

The Syrian conflict is continuing to affect neighboring countries.

On Monday, five rockets launched from Syria hit a Hezbollah-dominated area of eastern Lebanon, causing no casualties, a security source told AFP.

Two of the rockets landed near Brital’s high school, and one near the municipality of nearby village Al-Khudr. The two remaining rockets hit an area between the two villages, causing no injuries.

(With AFP)

Last Update: Monday, 3 March 2014 KSA 19:13 - GMT 16:13

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U.N. chief urges for third round of Syria talks
Ban Ki-moon stressed that Damascus must return to Geneva with a more ‘constructive position’
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