un envoy questions us engagement on syria
Last Updated : GMT 07:25:12
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Last Updated : GMT 07:25:12
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UN envoy questions US engagement on Syria

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Arab Today, arab today UN envoy questions US engagement on Syria

UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura
Munich - Arab today

UN envoy Staffan de Mistura on Sunday questioned US President Donald Trump’s engagement in solving the Syrian war, just days ahead of a new round of peace talks in Geneva.

“Where is the US in all this? I can’t tell you because I don’t know,” he said, adding that the new administration was still trying to work out its priorities on the conflict.

“The top three US priorities include fighting Islamic State militants, how to limit the influence of some major regional players and how to not to damage one of their major allies in the region,” de Mistura told the Munich Security Conference.

“How you square this circle, that I understand is what they are discussing in Washington,” he said.

He did not say who the regional player or major ally were but the first reference appeared to be to Iran, with the second likely to be either Turkey or Saudi Arabia

Mistura stressed that what was ultimately key was an inclusive political solution to end the six-year conflict.

“Even a ceasefire with two guarantors can’t hold too long if there is no political horizon,” he said, referring to a fragile truce brokered by Russia and Turkey in December.

Any political solution has to be inclusive to be credible, he said, stressing that peace talks in Astana last week organised by Russia, Turkey and Iran, and the ceasefire deal provided an opening that should be explored.

The US envoy for the anti-IS coalition, Brett McGurk, acknowledged that Trump’s administration is “re-looking at everything, which is a very healthy process from top to bottom.”

“We will be very selfish about protecting and advancing our interests,” he told the same forum.

The Syrian opposition, meanwhile, said it is fully committed to peace talks in Geneva on February 23, a senior official said on Sunday, adding the talks would need to pave the way for a political transition.

“We are fully committed for the Geneva talks,” Syrian National Coalition President Anas Al Abdah told delegates at the Munich Security Conference. “We cannot address the profound security threats ... while Assad remains in power,” he said.

Under Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama, Washington insisted President Bashar al-Assad had to go, putting it at odds with Moscow which backs the Syrian leader.

At the same time, Trump has called for closer cooperation with Moscow to combat IS in Syria and Iraq, leaving the Al Assad question open.

More than 310,000 people have died since a popular uprising in 2011 against Assad morphed into all out civil war, with more than half the population forced to flee their homes

source : gulfnews

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