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Syria's political process 'in crisis' and must be reenergized - Ban

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon briefs reporters at UN Headquarters.
UN Photo/Evan Schneider
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon briefs reporters at UN Headquarters.

Syria's political process 'in crisis' and must be reenergized - Ban

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today appealed yet again for the international community to help bring the rival Syrian parties closer on concrete measures to end the conflict, saying “it is not enough for representatives of the Government and opposition to be in the same room, what matters most is what they do there.”

“The political process is in crisis,” Mr. Ban told reporters after the closed door session with the UN General Assembly. “After two rounds of talks [in Geneva], neither side is displaying any will to compromise or any true awareness of the suffering of the Syrian people.”

“I strongly urge the Syrian Government and opposition to show the leadership, vision and flexibility needed to end the conflict,” the UN chief said.

Turning to Russia and the United States, as the initiating States of the Geneva Conference on Syria, he urged those Governments “to take clear steps to re-energize the political process”.

The United Nations and Arab League Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, who also participated in today's briefing to the General Assembly, yesterday asked the Security Council to help push for a political solution through the Geneva process.

Mr. Brahimi is due to travel to Iran on Sunday, as part of ongoing consultations with countries in the region.

Mr. Ban said Iran could play "an important role, including impressing upon the Syrian Authorities to come to the Geneva conference in a more constructive way".

The basis for the Geneva talks is full implementation of an action plan adopted in the so-called Geneva Communiqué of 2012, the first international conference on the conflict, which calls for a transitional government to lead to free and fair elections.

Two rounds of talks earlier this year saw both sides sticking to their positions and yielded only modest cooperation on a humanitarian issue related to aid access in the long-besieged Old City of Homs.

In his remarks today, Mr. Ban also called for an end to the flow of arms and fighters fueling the violence. “All those who persist in seeking a military solution are making a political solution even more distant and elusive,” he stressed.

Mr. Ban also spoke about the crisis in Ukraine, saying the situation is at a “crossroads” and is at a “great risk of a dangerous downward spiral”.

Yesterday, he discussed the need for continued Ukrainian restraint with visiting Ukrainian Prime Minister Yatsenyuk, stressing that any peaceful solution must be in accordance with the UN Charter's principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity.

On the Central African Republic, Mr. Ban, who met yesterday with three of the country's most distinguished religious leaders, said the conflict was not about religion.

“What we are seeing is the manipulation of religious and ethnic affiliations for political purposes,” he said.

Mr. Ban said he had also urged the Security Council act quickly on my recommendations for a UN peacekeeping operation in the country.