Ban Ki-moon 'disappointed' by Bashar al-Assad speech

Tuesday 08 January 2013 11.33
Ban Ki-moon said Mr Assad's speech did not contribute to a solution
Ban Ki-moon said Mr Assad's speech did not contribute to a solution

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has voiced his disappointment with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's rejection of peace talks with his enemies.

Mr Assad made his position clear in a speech yesterday that his opponents described as a renewed declaration of war.

Mr Ban was "disappointed that the speech by President Bashar al Assad on 6 January does not contribute to a solution that could end the terrible suffering of the Syrian people," UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said.

"The speech rejected the most important element of the Geneva Communique of 30 June 2012, namely a political transition and the establishment of a transitional governing body with full executive powers that would include representatives of all Syrians," Mr Nesirky told reporters.

He said Mr Ban "reaffirms his long-held view that there is no military solution to the conflict in Syria".

Mr Ban and UN-Arab League peace mediator Lakhdar Brahimi "continue to work towards a political solution to the conflict through a political transition that includes the establishment of a transitional government and the holding of free and fair elections under the auspices of the United Nations," he added.

Mr Nesirky said that Mr Brahimi yesterday met the president of the Syrian National Coalition, Moaz Alkhatib, and the prime minister and foreign minister of Qatar today.

On Wednesday, Mr Brahimi will meet Iran's foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi.

Mr Brahimi is also working hard on a "possible meeting" with Russian deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov and US Undersecretary of State William Burns, Mr Nesirky said.

So far, a year of intensive UN-Arab League diplomacy has failed to make a dent on the war in Syria, which has claimed more than 60,000 lives, according to the United Nations.

Mr Brahimi is now concentrating on healing the rift between Russia and the United States on Syria as the 21-month-old uprising becomes increasingly gruesome and sectarian, UN officials and diplomats say.

That rift has left the UN Security Council in a deadlock.

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