UN envoy: February 25 Syria talks are unrealistic

The UN special envoy for Syria is warning that the planned resumption of troubled peace talks next week is “not realistic”, a Swedish newspaper reported Friday.

"I cannot realistically call for new Geneva talks starting on February 25," the envoy, Staffan de Mistura, was quoted by AFP as telling the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper.

"We need 10 days of preparations and invitations. But we will aim to do this soon," he said in a telephone interview from Damascus.

Indirect talks in Geneva between the Syrian government and the opposition collapsed on February 3 after a Russian-backed regime onslaught on the northern city of Aleppo, and a second round was penciled in for February 25.

De Mistura made a surprise trip to Damascus after world powers last week called for immediate aid access throughout Syria and a "cessation of hostilities" to begin by Friday.

"I cannot say when I will call for talks. We have been disappointed in the past, now I am pragmatic and determined," he was quoted as having told the paper.

"We need real talks about peace, not just talks about talks,” added de Mistura. "I would like that the U.S. and Russia, with their partners, agree about a beginning of a cessation of hostilities between today and mid-next week.”

"Now the ball is in their court."

De Mistura also warned of the dangers of the five-year Syrian war developing into a wider regional conflict, voicing concern about actions by neighboring Turkey.

He said Turkey's bombardment of Syrian Kurdish fighters across the border has made the need for a solution ever more pressing.

"Turkey is complicating everything and it might complicate things further. This is a reason for more urgency. Major countries must realize that we need to put a lid on what can become even more of a regional and proxy conflict," said de Mistura.

"Any type of further conflict along the border of Syria has the potential to spin out of control," he warned.

Earlier this week, Turkish President Recep Tayyipn Erdogan declared his country would not allow the creation of a Kurdish stronghold in northern Syria, saying there was no question of Turkish forces stopping their bombardment of Syrian Kurdish fighters.

The comments echoed statements made three days earlier by the Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu when speaking with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Meanwhile, de Mistura pointed that the United Nations has begun delivering aid to people living in areas of Syria besieged by the government, rebels and jihadist forces.

"On the humanitarian side, the beginning is there but needs to be pushed ahead," de Mistura said.

AFP contributed to this report.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)

Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/208302

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