Ban: U.S.-Russia-sponsored talks best chance to resolve Syria crisis

July 1, 2013 at 4:41 PM
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DAMASCUS, Syria, July 1 (UPI) -- The conference proposed by Russia and the United States offers the best chance for resolving Syria's crisis, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Monday.

"There is an urgent need for the violence to end. Far too many lives have been lost already and the conflict has generated a huge and heart-rending humanitarian crisis," Ban said while in Geneva, Switzerland.

In May, following talks in Moscow between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, the two countries announced they would work together to try to reach a political solution to the Syria civil war, and agreed to convene an international conference to achieve that.

"The U.S.-Russian initiative to bring Syrian parties to the negotiating table is the best chance for a lasting solution that will deliver peace and save lives," Ban said. "It is essential that we do everything possible to ensure that this conference takes place as soon as possible. I urge the international community to fully commit to a political process."

Discussions have been held about when the conference should be, who should be included and its overall structure, Ban said in a release issued by the United Nations.

The United Nations estimates more than 93,000 people have been killed, and 1.5 million people have fled the fighting that began in March 2011 between the Syrian government and opposition groups seeking to oust President Bashar Assad.

"The people of Syria want peace and hope. Yet all they see is death upon death. All they hear is talks after talks," Ban said. "People are dying. Families are fleeing. Syria's fires are spreading. They may soon engulf the whole region."

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