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Montreux meeting on Syria "small step", difficult work still ahead: Ban Ki-moon

English.news.cn   2014-01-23 06:39:52

MONTREUX, Switzerland, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- The ministerial meeting in Montreux Wednesday is a small step for the resolution of conflict in Syria, while more difficult work is still ahead, said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

"Past three years were filled with horror: the bombardment of Syria, the use of chemical weapons, terrorist attack, persecutions, disappearances, torture, killing and destruction," he told journalists to the Geneva II meeting.

"It is not easy to sit around the table after so much bloodshed and destruction," said Ban.

Ending the war and bringing peace to Syria will be hard, said Ban, noting "We are taking the first small step here in Montreux. We will take another step on Friday when the two Syrian parties sit down to talk."

The talks will be chaired by joint special envoy of the UN and the Arab League Lakhdar Brahimi.

The international conference on Syria, dubbed Geneva II which started Wednesday, aimed to end the three-year-long conflict in Syria that killed at least 130,000. It brings together for the first time representatives from the Syrian government and its opposition.

The conference room, as expected, saw bitter exchanges between the two conflicting sides in Syria. In fact, the hope for breakthroughs during the conference has already been dampened after the opposition threatened to withdraw as protest to Ban's invitation to Iran, regarded as the Syrian government's ally.

But the UN chief believed that the conference is quite crucial anyway, saying "Today almost everyone with a means to influence the cause of this country were in the same room, under the auspice of the United Nations. That moment is historic."

"We don't expect instant breakthroughs for today's conference," he said. "No one underestimates the difficulties. There is due determination to insist that parties find a way peace."

Ban stressed the importance of efforts from the Syrian people for their own country. "Syrians must come together to save their country, protect the children and find a peace path to a better future."

They have a long history of living together, he continued, saying that they must recover all they have lost. He pledged that the process to resolve disputes should be led by Syria alone, with full respect to the Syrian sovereignty, integrity and unity.

The first step, he told reporters, is the formation by mutual consent over a transitional government with full injected power, including military, security and intelligence services. It must be followed by other steps such as national dialogue, constitutional review and elections.

He called on the Syrian government and its opposition to start allowing "full humanitarian access to all in need, especially in besieged areas where there are people without aid for months facing malnutrition and desperate health condition."

Food and medicines should be allowed in and civilians including the sick and the wounded must be allowed out, and attacks against civilians must cease, said Ban.

More difficult work lies ahead, but "it can be done, and it must be done," he said. "it is still not too late to end bloodshed and find a peaceful and democratic future in the united Syria."

Editor: yan
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