UN Security Council unanimously backs Syria peace plan


UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council on Saturday unanimously approved a resolution supporting a Russian-Turkish peace initiative for Syria, including an ongoing ceasefire and talks next month in Kazakhstan.

The resolution aims to pave the way for the new talks under the aegis of key Syria government backers Russia and Iran, and of Turkey, which backs rebel groups.

The text of the measure “welcomes and supports the efforts by Russia and Turkey to end violence in Syria and jumpstart a political process.”

Earlier, Russia urged the UN Security Council to quickly adopt a draft resolution endorsing the ceasefire agreement in Syria and reiterating support for a roadmap to peace that starts with a transitional government.

The draft resolution called for “rapid, safe and unhindered” access to deliver humanitarian aid throughout the country. And it looks forward to a meeting in late January between the Syrian government and opposition in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana “as an important part of the Syrian-led political process facilitated by the United Nations.”

Russia and Turkey, who brokered the ceasefire agreement, circulated the text to Security Council members on Thursday night.

Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin formally presented the draft at a closed council meeting on Friday morning. In response to comments from council members, Russia circulated a revised text late on Friday and Churkin said he hopes for a vote on Saturday morning.

The ceasefire agreement, if it holds, would mark a potential breakthrough in a conflict that began in 2011 with an uprising against decades of rule by President Bashar Assad’s family and has left over 250,000 dead and more than 13.5 million people in need of urgent assistance, and triggered a refugee crisis across Europe.

The draft resolution reiterates “that the only sustainable solution to the current crisis in the Syrian Arab Republic is through an inclusive and Syrian-led political process based on the Geneva communique of June 30, 2012,” which was endorsed by the Security Council. The communique, adopted by key nations, calls for the formation of a transitional government with full executive powers “on the basis of mutual consent” and steps leading to elections.

Churkin told reporters “there is no competition” between the talks in Astana and negotiations that the UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, hopes to arrange between the government and opposition in Geneva on Feb 8.

“As you know Staffan de Mistura had trouble reconvening the talks, so Russia and Turkey obviously decided to give the United Nations a hand in pushing things forward, and this is what we see happening,” Churkin told reporters.



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