U.N. and EU use conference of donors from Syria to call for peace

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union and the United Nations called on Tuesday for quick political talks to end the long war in Syria, saying that the latest territorial gains from Damascus and its allies had not brought the peace closer.

PHOTO OF THE ARCHIVE: The UN envoy Syria Staffan de Mistura speaks during a joint press conference with the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, after their meeting in Moscow, Russia on April 20, 2018. REUTERS / Maxim Shemetov

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, backed by Moscow and Tehran, is pushing a military offensive to crack down on the last rebel enclaves near Damascus. Efforts for a negotiated end to the war, which killed half a million people for seven years and displaced millions, are stagnating.

"We are seeing in recent weeks, days … that military gains, territorial gains and military escalation do not bring a political solution, they have not brought any change, on the contrary," the UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, said at a press conference in Brussels.

He spoke while governments and aid groups met in Brussels to commit more than $ 6 billion in aid for Syria.

De Mistura's co-host and EU diplomat, Federica Mogherini, said that "real and meaningful political negotiations … are clearly the only way forward".

The war of power confronts Damascus, Russia and Iran against rebels seeking to oust Assad and his supporters in Turkey and the West. Islamic militants have also wreaked havoc in the conflict, where the UN says more than 400,000 people are still trapped in the sieges.


A British deputy minister of development at the Brussels meeting said it was an important signal as the Syrian army continued to use sieges and bombing to expel the rebels.

"We want to make sure that medical facilities are no longer targeted, medical care is stolen, gender violence is reduced, medieval tactics of starvation are coming to an end," Alistair Burt told Reuters.

Donors would offer new money for humanitarian badistance within Syria, as well as for Syrian refugees in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.

But the United States and the EU, the world's biggest donors, refuse to obtain billions of dollars that would eventually be needed to rebuild Syria while Assad does not allow the opposition to share power.

"We see absolutely no motivation to give up one of the most important levers we have in the absence of a minimal movement towards a better political configuration or framework for Syria to do more, and no less, stable and secure," he said. a senior official of the United States administration.

Additional report by Robert-Jan Bartunek, Written by Gabriela Baczynska; Edition by Richard Balmforth


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