Syria talks in Switzerland end without breakthrough

Pressure is rising to stop a ferocious, three-week-old bombardment of eastern Aleppo by Syrian regime and Russian forces.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Foreign ministers of nine countries meet around a table during a meeting where they discussed the crisis in Syria, in Lausanne, Switzerland on October 15, 2016.

Updated Oct 16, 2016

Talks on Syria, convened by US Secretary of State John Kerry in the Swiss city of Lausanne, ended on Saturday evening after more than four hours without any joint ministerial statement from the nine countries.

Kerry was seeking a new path to peace after failing to secure a ceasefire in direct talks with Russia amid mounting international outrage over the Russian and Syrian regime bombardment of opposition-held eastern Aleppo.

But a former Western envoy in Syria said, "I don't understand (why) the Americans are asking the Russians to talk again. They have made zero concessions. Do the Americans believe Moscow was shaken by the break-off last week and will change behaviour now?"


(L-R) Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, US Secretary of State John Kerry, Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir sit together around a table during a meeting where they discussed the crisis in Syria, in Lausanne, Switzerland on October 15, 2016.

Separately, a Western diplomat in Lausanne said the meeting appeared ill-prepared and vague in its goals, and the list of invitees were clarified only at the last moment.

"If it is to reach an agreement on Aleppo, countries have to make commitments: Russia to stop bombing, Iran to withdraw its militia on the ground supporting Damascus," the diplomat said as the talks were under way.

It was the first meeting between Kerry and Lavrov since the collapse of a second attempted ceasefire in September.

Kerry hosted Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and seven foreign ministers from the region - from Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, Jordan and Egypt - weeks after the collapse of a painstakingly crafted US-Russian ceasefire plan that many saw as the last hope for peace this year.


(From L-R) Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Staffan de Mistura, UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria, Turkey's Foreign Affairs Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, sit around a table during a meeting where they discussed the crisis in Syria on October 15, 2016.

Pressure is rising for a halt to a ferocious, three-week-old Syrian regime offensive to capture the eastern zone of the city of Aleppo, where the United Nations says 275,000 civilians still live and 8,000 rebels are holding out against Syrian, Russian and Iranian-backed forces.

The United Nations has said food, fuel and medicine are running out in eastern Aleppo and there will be no rations to distribute from the start of next month.

Source: 
Reuters