UN chief reiterates need for political solution in Syria

UN chief reiterates need for political solution in Syria

25Kuwait, March 26 (IANS/WAM) UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has sought the cooperation of the international community to end the ongoing Syrian conflict, which he said can only be resolved politically, ruling out any military solution.

Ban in a wide-ranging speech to the 25th Arab League Summit in Kuwait – delivered by Lakhdar Brahimi, joint special representative of the UN and the Arab League – thanked those countries hosting more than 2.5 million refugees for bearing the heavy cost of the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Syria.

“In Syria, the crisis is now in its fourth year. Syrians continue to endure appalling suffering, including gross violations of human rights. Hundreds of people are dying everyday. Millions have been displaced,” Ban said.

Noting that the conflict has been “acutely felt” by neighbouring countries, Ban warned that the entire region was in danger of becoming embroiled and appealed to Arab League members – working with Russia, the US and the UN – to re-energise Geneva II peace conference on the conflict.

The UN secretary-general welcomed the “unity of the international community” in supporting Lebanon’s security and stability, including the role of the Arab League and the International Support Group for Lebanon.

Ban expressed his satisfaction with the collaboration between the UN and the Arab League in promoting development and peaceful conflict resolutions.

“I count on your support in strengthening this cooperation, in particular in the areas of mediation and electoral support,” he stated.

The Arab summit tackles key political and economic issues in the Arab region and deliberates on the future of Arab cooperation under the umbrella of the Arab League that comprises 22 Arab countries, excluding Syria that has been suspended for the ongoing humanitarian crisis.

The theme of 2014 summit is ‘Unity for a better future’ tasked with confronting many regional issues.

Ban highlighted Palestinian-Israeli relations as another main issue of concern, urging both sides “to make the necessary compromises” to achieve lasting and comprehensive peace.

He noted that “Israeli settlement activities were a violation of international law, and pose a serious threat to a peaceful resolution of the conflict” and said that the two-state solution must be salvaged by creating conditions for meaningful negotiations to resolve the core issues of conflict.

Ban said Tunisia was “a clear example of the power of consensus-building, commitment to dialogue and willingness to reach compromises to advance the national interest”, lauding its Constitution of Jan 26 as “a major milestone for the country’s transition”.

While acknowledging that Yemen still faced political, security and humanitarian challenges, he pointed to its National Dialogue Conference of Jan 25 to illustrate that genuine dialogue and compromise were the best ways to attain positive change.

“The agreed vision to build a new federal and democratic Yemen is a hard-won achievement,” he said, promising “the United Nations will remain fully engaged with its partners to assist the people of Yemen to build a more secure, just and prosperous future for all”.

Speaking about recent developments in Libya, Ban underscored the urgent need for Tripoli to firmly obligate itself to the democratic process and committed the UN to assist the Libyan authorities “to rebuild their nation following more than four decades of authoritarian rule”.

Turning to Egypt, Ban condemned the recent deadly terrorist attacks that claimed the lives of numerous security service personnel and civilians.

“Durable democratic peace is critical for the people of Egypt and all of North Africa and the Middle East,” he said.

Looking to Sub-Saharan Africa, the secretary-general pointed out that Darfur also remained highly unstable, saying that recent fighting has displaced nearly 100,000 people from their homes.

“It is essential that implementation of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur is accelerated and that we intensify efforts to encourage the Government of Sudan to address the root causes of conflict and end it,” Ban added.

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