UN peace envoy for Syria heading to Moscow, Washington

12th October 2015, Comments 0 comments

The UN peace envoy to Syria said Monday he was heading directly to Moscow in a bid to promote a political end to the conflict, as Russia is intensifying its air strikes.

"I am on my way tonight to Moscow," Staffan de Mistura told reporters in Geneva, acknowledging that the Russian air strikes in Syria had "introduced new dynamics" to the brutal conflict.

He said he would travel on to Washington "immediately after" his Moscow visit, as he struggles to set up so-called contact groups of countries with interests and influence in the Syria conflict that could help it move towards a political solution.

De Mistura proposed in July creating the contact groups in addition to four working groups composed of Syrian opposition and government representatives to discuss issues including protecting civilians and reconstruction.

The Swedish-Italian diplomat, whose role has been dismissed as "mission impossible," has said his approach was for Syrians to engage in simultaneous "working groups" on the thorniest issues.

"There is an urgent push for a parallel political process, which should be credible, all inclusive and within the parameters of the Geneva communique," he said.

The Geneva communique is a document agreed at a peace conference in 2012 that drew up baselines for a Syria peace deal including the formation of a transitional governing body with executive powers.

De Mistura's comments came after Syria's key opposition National Coalition said Sunday it would boycott his proposed talks, marking a major setback to his efforts.

The Coalition slammed the Russian air campaign launched on September 30, saying it was incompatible with Moscow's UN Security Council membership and role as a party to peace talks in Syria.

The opposition has also been disappointed by the consultative nature of De Mistura's proposal, saying the talks fall short of proper negotiations.

"What we must at all costs avoid at this stage in particular is of course a continuation of the conflict," De Mistura said, warning that the worst-case scenario if no political solution is found is "partition, which is de facto already being seen as a possibility, and we consider that a tragedy."

"The situation could move into a toxic type of cocktail and a combination of a creeping Afghanistan with shades of Libya and Somalia," he warned, stressing "the need of an urgent political process to start now".

© 2015 AFP

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