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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran Press TV

Western leaders call for resumption of Syria talks amid army's gains against militants

Iran Press TV

Sat Dec 10, 2016 4:28PM

Western leaders have called for a new round of talks between representatives from the Damascus government and foreign-sponsored opposition groups to find a solution to the nearly six-year-old conflict in Syria amid recent gains made by the Syrian army against militants and terrorist groups.

"We need to tie down the conditions for a genuine political transition, and negotiations must resume on a clear basis within the framework of the UN resolution 2254," French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said in Paris on Saturday following talks between top Western diplomats and opposition delegates.

Ayrault alleged that the opposition had offered to take part in the talks without conditions.

The UN Security Council Resolution 2254 endorses a road map for a peace process in Syria. It calls for a nationwide ceasefire in Syria and the formation of a "credible, inclusive and non-sectarian" government within six months and UN-supervised "free and fair elections" within 18 months.

A diplomatic source, speaking on condition of anonymity, however, dismissed the remarks, saying that opposition representatives had called for a political transition in Syria before any decision to attend the talks.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said sponsors of the Syrian opposition had not abandoned the war-ravaged northwestern city of Aleppo, located some 355 kilometers north of the capital Damascus, and asserted that a political solution had to be drawn up for the Syrian crisis.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State John Kerry said American and Russian officials were going to meet in the Swiss city of Geneva later on Saturday to discuss the Syria peace talks and find a way to save the lives of civilians trapped in Aleppo.

On Friday, an unnamed source at the Syrian Foreign Ministry said the Syrian government was ready for the resumption of intra-Syrian reconciliation dialogue without any foreign interference or precondition.

Russia's Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin said on Thursday that the Syrian peace talks should resume as soon as possible, preferably before the end of the term of the current UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon.

The last round of UN-brokered Syrian peace talks finished in April, with no progress on the key issue of Syria's future government and the fate of President Bashar al-Assad.

The conflict in Syria, which flared up in March 2011, has claimed the lives of more than 400,000 people, according to an estimate by UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura.

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