No breakthrough in fresh Syria talks
TALKS in Switzerland between Washington, Moscow and Syria’s neighbours ended within hours of starting with no breakthrough on halting the violence ravaging the country.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said the Lausanne meeting produced some new ideas on reviving a ceasefire in Syria, where the regime continues to pound rebel-held areas in Aleppo.
But he said it was too early to reveal what these ideas were, and that high-level contacts – but not a ministerial-level meeting – would continue today to flesh them out.
Mr Kerry welcomed the more than four hours of “very candid, first-time discussion ... open and free-wheeling ... with all of the key parties at the table simultaneously”.
“I would characterise this as exactly what we wanted,” he told reporters at the hotel where he met Russian, Iranian, Saudi, Turkish, Egyptian, Jordanian, Iraqi and Qatari envoys.
The US envoy’s tone was upbeat, but came despite diplomats from all sides warning against hopes of a rapid ceasefire.
And away from the talks, Moscow’s actions showed no sign that it might be softening its strong support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his campaign against the USbacked rebels.
Fierce fighting was also continuing elsewhere in the multi-front conflict, with Turkish-backed fighters closing in on Dabiq, a symbolic stronghold of the Islamic State group.
And in Aleppo, Mr Assad’s Russianbacked government forces intensified their bombardment of the rebel-held east of the city, further damaging any prospect of a renewed ceasefire.
Mr Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, once joint sponsors of international peace efforts, met ahead of the broader talks, but US officials insisted that their “bilateral track” remained dead.
President Barack Obama has been adamant that US forces will not become caught up in the war and Mr Kerry was hoping that talks with Russia and regional powers may yield new ideas and a solution.
The talks come as Moscow faces growing criticism over its backing for Mr Assad’s assault in divided Aleppo.
Air strikes hit rebel-held parts of Aleppo again on October 15, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based watchdog with a network of sources on the ground.
More than 370 people, including nearly 70 children, have been killed in regime and Russian bombardment of eastern Aleppo since September 22, according to the Observatory. –
US Secretary of State John Kerry (centre) speaks with Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir (left) and Jordan’s Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh (right) at the end of the peace talks in Lausanne, Switzerland, on October 15.