Conference on Syria settlement very soon: UN chief

Moscow, May 19 (IANS/RIA Novosti) After consultations with UN Security Council permanent members, a conference on the Syrian settlement will take place “very soon”, possibly at the beginning of June, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said here Sunday.

“As I have been asked by the parties to convene this conference on the auspices of the United Nations, I’m now actively engaging with all the parties I have spoken to: the US, Russia, Britain, France, China, all other key parties,” Ban said.

“We are still trying to look at a window possibility in early June but this is a matter of still further consultations,” he said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov earlier said after a meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry that an international conference on Syria at a ministerial level may be held in Geneva if both sides of the Syrian conflict agreed to participate in the event.

The conference would be a follow-up to last year’s international meeting in Geneva that drafted a peace roadmap for Syria.

Opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have refused to sit for talks with the regime in the past, saying that Assad’s removal is a non-negotiable issue.

Syria has been locked in a civil war since demonstrations broke out against Assad in March 2011. According to UN estimates, at least 70,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

–IANS/RIA Novosti

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