UN Syria envoy still working on peace conference plan
WASHINGTON – Agence France-Presse
Algerian United Nations envoy and international mediator Lakhdar Brahimi waits for the start of an informal meeting of the plenary of the General Assembly to commemorate Nelson Mandela International Day at the United Nations headquarters in New York, July 18, 2013. REUTERS/Lucas JacksonU.N. peace envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi said July 22 he was pressing on with plans for a conference aimed at ending the fighting, though no firm date is in sight.
“It is extremely difficult to bring people who have been killing one another for two years just by a magic wand to a conference like this. It will take time, but I hope it will happen,” Brahimi told a handful of reporters on the sidelines of an event in Washington. “There are still issues that have not been solved. We are hopeful. That’s all we can say.”
The talks, dubbed Geneva 2, were initially planned for late May after the idea was first floated during a Moscow meeting between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov. But amid difficulties on agreeing who should sit at the table, the calendar slipped into June, and then July, with the best estimates now hoping for a date in September.
There is also disagreement between the U.S. and Russia about whether Iran should attend the talks, which are aimed at bringing together the opposition and the Syrian regime to find a political solution to end a conflict that is now in its third year. “The United Nations have made it very clear that we would like all countries... with interests and/or influence (to) attend Geneva, and that includes Iran,” Brahimi said.
And amid debate in Washington about arming the Syrian opposition, Brahimi said the U.N. stand was also very clear. “Arms do no make peace. We would like to see the delivery of arms stopped to all sides.”