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(From L-R): Egypt’s FM Sameh Shoukry, Russia’s FM Sergey Lavrov, US Secretary of State John Kerry, Saudi Arabia’s FM Adel al-Jubeir, Qatar’s FM Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, Iraq’s FM Ibrahim al-Jaafari, Iran’s FM Mohammad Javad Zarif, UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria Staffan de Mistura, Turkey’s FM Mevlut Cavusoglu and Jordan’s FM Nasser Judeh meet in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Oct. 15.
(From L-R): Egypt’s FM Sameh Shoukry, Russia’s FM Sergey Lavrov, US Secretary of State John Kerry, Saudi Arabia’s FM Adel al-Jubeir, Qatar’s FM Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, Iraq’s FM Ibrahim al-Jaafari, Iran’s FM Mohammad Javad Zarif, UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria Staffan de Mistura, Turkey’s FM Mevlut Cavusoglu and Jordan’s FM Nasser Judeh meet in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Oct. 15.

Diplomats Open New Track to End Syria Violence

New ideas proposed, more talks prepared and no quick resolution in sight for Syria’s agony, as top diplomats meet in Switzerland

Diplomats Open New Track to End Syria Violence

A US-hosted meeting of major world and regional powers made only piecemeal headway on creating a new, multilateral track for ending the beleaguered country’s grinding war.
US Secretary of State John Kerry convened top diplomats from Russia and regional powers like Turkey and Iran on Saturday for a 4 1/2-hour meeting in Switzerland.
The talks came amid heightened urgency about the city of Aleppo, the latest flashpoint in a war that has killed up to a half-million people, sparked a refugee crisis and offered a territorial base to the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group, AP reported.
The new approach comes after last month’s US-Russian bid to end the war collapsed. Ministers put a brave face on the Lausanne meeting, which Kerry said was “exactly what we wanted”—a statement that testified mostly to low expectations. The main result was pledges to resume contact on Monday.
Russia has put a priority on separating Al-Qaeda-linked militants on a UN-designated list of terrorist organizations from “moderate” militants backed by the United States. For that to happen, Washington says the aerial attack in eastern Aleppo must stop.
Saturday’s talks included top envoys from Iran, Turkey, Qatar, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
Kerry said the discussion was driven by the “urgency of Aleppo, the urgency of trying to find something that works other than military action”.
Ministers offered suggestions that “really might be able to shape some different approaches”, he said, without elaborating. No official news conference or joint statement followed Saturday’s meeting.
The Syrian-Russian offensive in Aleppo prompted the US to end discussions this month over a proposed military alliance against IS and Al-Qaeda-linked militants.
Nevertheless, Kerry reunited with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the lakeside Beau-Rivage Palace in Lausanne, speaking with the Russian for almost 40 minutes before the larger gathering. For all the talk in Washington about a possible Plan B, US hopes for diplomatic progress appeared to rest squarely on Russia’s cooperation.
“There are a few ideas we discussed today in this circle of countries that can influence the situation,” Lavrov told Russian news agencies. “We agreed to continue contacts in the next few days aiming at agreements that could advance the settlement. We spoke clearly in favor of a quick launch of a political process.”
On Saturday, Syrian and Russian airstrikes hit several militant-held Aleppo neighborhoods amid clashes on the frontlines in Syria’s largest city and onetime commercial center, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Aleppo Media Center, an activist collective.
Also, opposition fighters backed by Turkish airstrikes launched an offensive to try to capture Dabiq from IS, which confers special status to the northern Syrian town in its ideology and propaganda.
In another sign that Turkey and Russia have repaired relations since last year’s Turkish downing of a Russian fighter plane, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu appeared to endorse Russia’s position on the significance of US and Turkish-backed opposition forces separating themselves from Al-Qaeda-linked militants.
US President Barack Obama and the Pentagon have made clear their opposition to any US military strikes against Syria President Bashar Assad’s military. The US is uneasy with providing more advanced weaponry to the anti-Assad militants because of their links to extremist groups.
And sanctions on Moscow are seen as unlikely step, given their limited impact after Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea territory in 2014 and the weak appetite among America’s European partners for such action.
Underscoring the lack of options, Obama directed his national security team on Friday to renew diplomatic efforts to reduce the bloodshed in Syria.

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