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Ban Ki-moon wants Russia, Iran to push Syria over peace talks

Last Updated: Saturday, March 15, 2014 - 03:28

United Nations: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon today said Russia and Iran should pressure their ally in Damascus to re-start peace talks aimed at ending the three-year Syrian civil war.

The UN-led peace talks, dubbed Geneva II, broke down on February 15 when a second round ended and no new date was set for them to reconvene.

UN and Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said earlier this week the Syrian government was engaged in "delaying tactics" aimed at slowing the resumption of the talks to end the conflict that has left more than 146,000 people dead and driven millions from their homes.

"Anyone who has influence, the Russian government or the Iranian government, may impress upon the Syrian authorities so that they will come with a more constructive attitude to the Geneva conference," Ban told reporters.

Ban was speaking after an informal meeting of the UN General Assembly attended by Brahimi, who is to head on Sunday to Tehran.

"Iran is one of the important regional countries who can play an important role, including impressing upon the Syrian authorities to come to the Geneva conference in a more constructive way," Ban said.
Asked about the upcoming presidential vote in Syria -- planned for this summer -- Ban repeated Brahimi`s comments from Wednesday.

If President "Assad becomes a candidate, then it is very difficult to move ahead the Geneva peace process," because one of the goals of the talks is to create a transitional government in Syria, Ban said.

Bashar al-Assad has not announced his candidacy but is widely expected to seek another seven-year term.

First Published: Saturday, March 15, 2014 - 03:28

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