No negotiations on Syria until late summer, says UN special representative

 

Hopes of another international peace conference on Syria before the end of July are fading, the UN’s special representative for the war-torn country has said.

On his way into day-long talks between the US and Russia, Lakhdar Brahimi told reporters he still hopes a second round of international negotiations can be convened in Geneva – but not until later in the summer.

“Frankly now, I doubt whether the conference will take place in July,” he said, noting that the Syrian opposition is not meeting until early July and probably would not be ready. “Since our previous meeting here on the 5 June, the situation on the ground in Syria has hardly improved. It is still relentless destruction, killing, more suffering, more injustice, and more uncertainty for the future of the Syrian people.”

Brahimi was mediating a meeting between the US and Russia, which are at loggerheads over the conflict that has killed more than 93,000 people. He expressed concern that the killings of more than 50 people in Lebanon a day earlier “are a stern reminder to all of the risks of the conflict in Syria spreading across the border to neighbouring countries.”

He also said that Tuesday’s meeting between Wendy Sherman, US undersecretary of state for political affairs, and Russian deputy foreign ministers Mikhail Bogdanov and Gennady Gatilov at the UN’s European headquarters might not resolve issues such as how the conference should be conducted and who should participate.

“If they agree to talk, it will already be a step forward,” he said.

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