News / Middle East

Ban: Syria Talks Need More Seriousness, Urgency

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon gives his speech during the annual Munich Security Conference, Feb. 1, 2014.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon gives his speech during the annual Munich Security Conference, Feb. 1, 2014.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says Syria's government and its political opponents should bring greater seriousness and urgency to international efforts to end their conflict. Their first round of talks ended Friday with little progress on how to end the fighting or increase humanitarian access.

Ban Ki-moon says the first round of Syrian talks shows that progress will be difficult and the process itself is hard-going, but at least it is a start.

"The parties may still be fighting. But now they are also talking. This is the only hope for a political solution," he said.

When talks resume February 10, Ban says President Bashar al-Assad's government and its opponents must both bring a new attitude.

"They should come with more sense of honestness as well as seriousness and urgency," he said. "The negotiations must not be used as a tactic to delay the end of fighting. There is no military solution to this crisis."

Ban and the joint special representative Lakhdar Brahimi met late Friday with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to discuss the talks. They are all in Munich for an international security conference.

Ban says he urged both the United States and Russia to use their influence to ensure that the peace process continues. Russia is an ally of the government in Damascus. The United States backs Assad opponents.

Kerry says he is working with Lavrov to keep the Assad government engaged in the peace process.

"There are powerful feelings for why we believe Assad needs to feel even more sense of urgency to come to the table," he said.

Lavrov says there is much pressure on Moscow to influence Damascus. But, speaking through a interpreter, he said Russia can not accomplish anything on its own if those supporting the opposition do not do the same.

"We are putting daily pressure on the Syrian government. It is in a very difficult situation. And to try to convince a government which is waging a war to make some gestures is a very difficult task. You know what I'm talking about," he said.

Lavrov says the political opposition at these talks is too narrowly drawn from groups with little popular support on the ground. Speaking through a different interpreter, he said the key to success is to make the talks truly representative.

"All those influencing the opposition should do their best for the delegations at the negotiating table to represent the whole spectrum of Syrian society," he said.

Brahimi says there was some progress in getting humanitarian aid to the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus, home to thousands of Palestinians who have been residents in Syria since before the civl war there began. However, Brahimi said there was no movement to report on efforts to get aid shipments into the city of Homs, or on a prisoner exchange between the Syrian government and rebels. "The gaps between the sides remain wide," he says, "there is no use pretending otherwise."

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Comment Sorting
by: JR from: São Paulo, Brazil
February 02, 2014 2:25 PM
For me it is clear that Assad intents to smash the oponents with no mercy, and those talkings about peace, or something like that, are only to gain time to accomplish his aim, and Russia acts to him get it.

by: Maithe from: Paris, France
February 01, 2014 5:40 PM
Poor Mr Ban Ki-moon ! It's not easy being the UN Secretary-General....
Of course everybody will agree with you: Syria talks need more seriousness and urgency. But where is THE solution ? Asking the US and Russia to "solve" the problem ?? Difficult as far as they both take sides (along with other countries).
Syria needs action and no more talks. People are dying. Hurry up Mr Ban.

by: MikeBarnett from: USA
February 01, 2014 3:25 PM
The two sides in the Syrian Civil War have been shooting and shelling each other for nearly three years. It is likely to be difficult to make each side forget the suffering that they have received during the course of the conflict. Both sides believe that they are on the "right" side in this war. The Syrian conflict has a religious element because Sunnis claim that the Shia and Alawites are unbelievers, creating another force for intransigence. The foreign fighters and the foreign supporters of both sides create another complicating set of forces. This has been the first set of meetings. There will be others.

The US should watch, wait, and encourage continued negotiations without taking sides. The first danger of taking sides is that the US backed side could lose. The second danger of taking sides is that the US backed side could win. No national leader wants to take US "orders" and will likely make closer relationships with countries that the US opposes to prove his independence and to prevent the US from removing him at a later date.

by: ted savage from: tennessee united states
February 01, 2014 2:50 PM
I understand Mr Ban and others wanting for both sides to try to get solution agreed to that will end this bloodshed. But, there will be no solution found because the first thing the rebels insist in is that the President leaves office and the first thing the government says is that him leaving is not an option. So, these talks are simply useless.

by: joe m from: new york
February 01, 2014 10:19 AM
Syria s. Dictatorship will not budge an inch until Russia and Iran s. Weapons are stopped. Powder keg. Is now in place.
In Response

February 01, 2014 11:02 PM
Syrian regime led by Assad is ardently supported by both Russia and Iran.Russia has some economic benefits in keeping good relations with Syria.Iran' support is for religion and its own interest too. In this situation, Syria' President will not resign.On the other hand, opposition will continue their struggle unless l President Assad resigns.This is the dilemma.And the dilemma has caused enough trouble to millions off Syrians.Both Assad and the opposition have no sympathy over the plights of the common Syrian people.Only God knows when Syrian tussle will be settled

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