Syria talks to resume in Geneva next month, says UN
GENEVA – The Associated Press
REUTERS photoA top U.N. official says Geneva will host new diplomatic talks in January aimed at resolving the Syrian conflict.
Michael Moller, the head of the United Nations in Geneva, told reporters Dec. 22 that the talks are to take place in the U.N. office in the Swiss city, though he says no date has been set under the guidance of United Nations’ Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura.
Moller did not immediately provide further details.
The Security Council on Dec. 18 gave its unanimous support for a peace process for Syria set to begin next month between representatives of the government and the opposition. No site was specified.
Two rounds of peace talks between government and regime representatives in Geneva last year ended in failure over President Bashar Assad’s fate. The conflict is now in its fifth year, with at least 250,000 people killed.
Menwhile, Syria’s foreign minister will visit China this week, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on dec. 22, amid a renewed bid by Beijing to play a more active role in finding an end to conflict in the Middle East.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem will be in China from Dec. 23 to Dec. 26 and will meet his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a daily news briefing, according to Reuters.
Wang over the weekend invited Syrian government and opposition figures to come to China as Beijing looks to ways to help with the peace process.
China has played host to both Syrian government and opposition figures before, though it remains a peripheral diplomatic player in the crisis.
While relying on the region for oil supplies, China tends to leave Middle Eastern diplomacy to the other five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, namely the United States, Britain, France and Russia.
The U.N. Security Council on Dec. 18 unanimously approved a resolution endorsing an international road map for a Syrian peace process, a rare show of unity among major powers on a conflict that has claimed more than a quarter of a million lives.
Hong said China hoped for more international cooperation in fighting terrorism to avoid incidents like the downing of a Russian fighter jet.
“The downing of the jet is a loss to the international effort to fight terrorism,” Hong said.