destroyed buildings are seen in the old city of Homs, Syria, Feb. 26, 2016.
destroyed buildings are seen in the old city of Homs, Syria, Feb. 26, 2016.

GENEVA - A senior U.S. official said the agreements on the cessation of hostilities in Syria and the delivery of humanitarian aid are broadly holding, making him optimistic that the planned resumption of political negotiations will go forward. 

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken called the massive human rights violations in Syria deplorable. He told journalists in Geneva the United States strongly supports efforts at the U.N. Human Rights Council to try to bring the perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity to justice.

Blinken said the U.S. is working with Russia and other countries on a parallel political track to bring Syria’s five-year civil war to an end. He said progress is being made to monitor and verify the warring parties are living up to the cease-fire agreement.

He said monitors are seeing a reduction of violence and a reduction in the number of attacks. He said progress is being made to assist many thousands of Syrians who have gone without food, medicine and other relief for months.

“Now we have to broaden out to even harder to reach populations that are besieged and make sure assistance is getting to them," he said. "All of this can set the foundation for renewed negotiations toward a political transition, which is the only answer to get to a Syria that is free of civil war, free of brutality, free of oppression.”  

Blinken also criticized North Korea for saying it would boycott any session that examines its record. He called North Korea’s refusal to confront the realities of the widespread, systematic abuse to which its people is subject delusional.

“This is the only nation in the world to test a nuclear weapon in the 21st century, a country determined to advance its U.N. prohibitive programs at the expense of the welfare of its own people," he said. "... It is a rogue state among rogue states and the people of North Korea deserve better.”

North Korea accuses the United States of being a racist country where widespread gun-related violence claims more than 13,000 lives every year.  
Speaking to VOA, Blinken said unlike North Korea, when the United States has a problem, it is covered in the media, widely debated and resolved.  

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