U.N. chief has no direct contact with Assad

Ban is using his special representative to communicate with the Syrian government

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The U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says he has given up on a direct communication with Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad because the latter “was not keeping his promises.”

In an interview with Talal al-Haj, Al Arabiya News Channel’s New York/ U.N. bureau chief, Ban explained that he started using his special representative to communicate with the Syrian government.

“I had been speaking with him many times at the beginning of this crisis… when he was not keeping his promises, and I had been thinking that it would not be useful for me, and there was no such need, I’ve been basically using my joint special representative,” he said on Al Arabiya News Channel’s program Diplomatic Avenue.

Discussing the future of Lakhdar Brahimi, the United Nations’ envoy for Syria, Ban confirmed that Brahimi, despite expressing concerns about the Syrian situation, will continue to perform his duties.

“I have a full confidence and trust in Lakhdar Brahimi, he has much experienced and he is respected by the actors in the region, therefore he has been working very hard. So, it is not proper to discuss about his future, he will continue to work as a special joint representative,” Ban said.

Syria is now well into the third year of a violent and bloody civil war which has killed hundreds of thousands, and forced millions to flee their homes.

Meanwhile, Assad announced last Monday that he will seek re-election for another term as president, amid the violence and as the war goes on.

The announcement provoked angry responses and condemnation from his foes and members of the international community including Ban and Brahimi.

Ban recited the pair’s concerns about elections set to take place on June 3, saying “as I said and as he [Brahimi] said, this election is not compatible with the letters and spirit of the Geneva Communique,” he said, repeating that it “will be a serious setback” to the Syria peace talks.

The Geneva Communique contains steps and measures aimed at seeking peace in Syria.

Finally, the chief spoke about the program to demolish Syria’s chemical weapons. The country has already missed an April 27 deadline to completely rid itself of the weapons, and a new deadline was set for June 30.

Statements released earlier this week conclude that Syria has gotten rid of 88 percent of its chemical armaments.

“The operation of a joint mission will continue to do all what they can to meet the target by the date of June 30,” Ban said.

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