Latest Syria negotiations come up short yet again: No ceasefire reached
A new round of international-regional deliberations on Syria have failed to reach concrete solutions on means to end the bloodshed, while an Arab-Turkish initiative has put forward some measures to alleviate the sufferings of around 250 thousand besieged residents in the eastern part of Aleppo.
An international meeting on Syria was held in the Swiss city of Lausanne on Saturday, in the presence of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Lavrov, Saudi Foreign Affairs Minister Adel Al-Jubeir and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu, as well as U.N. Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura. The meeting was also attended by foreign affairs ministers from Iran, Iraq, Qatar, Jordan and Egypt.
While no joint statement was issued at the outset of the meeting, Lavrov said that participants agreed to maintain communication. Arab diplomatic sources told Asharq al-Awsat newspaper that foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar have held coordination talks and exchanged views ahead of Saturday’s meeting. The sources added that Cavusoglu has informed the Arab ministers of his intention to submit proposals on the situation in Aleppo.
Sources from the Syrian opposition said that that Turkey’s proposal on Aleppo included lifting the blockade imposed on the city and separating between the warring parties. The sources added that Turkey was hoping that a political agreement is reached between the United States and Russia to lift the blockade and allow the delivery of humanitarian aid to the war-ravaged city.
Ahead of the meeting, Lavrov told reporters that he had no expectations about the outcome of the new round of deliberations, noting that he has not seen any concrete steps by Western partners in this regard.
Meanwhile, a high-ranking official at the U.S. State Department said he did not foresee any important announcement to be made at the end of the meeting. Another U.S. official accompanying Kerry to the Lausanne meetings said on Friday that the gathering did not aim at achieving immediate results but at studying views that could lead to a halt of fighting.
A Western diplomat in Lausanne quoted by Reuters said the meeting appeared ill-prepared and vague in its goals, and the list of invitees had been clarified only at the last moment.
Kerry, Lavrov and Jubeir held tripartite talks ahead of the meeting. It was the first direct discussion between the U.S. secretary of state and his Russian counterpart since the failure of the second truce agreement in September.
For its part, the Syrian opposition slammed the new round of diplomatic talks in Lausanne, holding both the U.S. and Russia responsible for the deterioration of the situation in Aleppo.
Brigadier General Asaad Al-Zoghby, the head of the High Negotiations Committee (NHC) at the Geneva Talks, told Asharq al-Awsat newspaper that the Lausanne meeting would be doomed as long as Russia has the U.S. green light to do whatever it wants in Syria.
Abdal Ahad Stefo, deputy head of the Istanbul-based National Coalition, told AFP the negotiations “will only lead to wasting more time… and the shedding of more Syrian blood”.
By Thaer Abbas