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Tuesday, May 17, 2016, 18:40

China envoy calls for joint efforts on ceasefire in Syria

By Agencies
China envoy calls for joint efforts on ceasefire in Syria

UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura (left) shakes hands with China's Special Envoy for Syria Xie Xiaoyan during a meeting meeting in the Palais des Nations (Palais des Nations) in Geneva on April 18, 2016. (Photo / Xu Jinquan, POOL, AFP)

VIENNA - China hopes all sides could work together to achieve a real ceasefire in Syria at the upcoming International Syria Support Group (ISSG) meeting, China's envoy said Tuesday.

Major world countries and regional powers are gathering in Vienna on Tuesday, trying to find a way to end the country's civil war.

They agreed Tuesday to try and turn Syria's shaky pause in fighting into a comprehensive ceasefire as a step toward ending the five-year war that left hundreds of thousands dead and fueled the rise of Islamic extremists.

Outlining other results, US Secretary of State John Kerry said participants set a June 1 deadline for the resumption of humanitarian aid to areas cut off from the outside world.

If land routes remain blocked, food aid will be air dropped and international pressure will be increased on those blocking such relief, he said. Such pressure will also be applied to stop indiscriminate use of force by the Syrian military, Kerry added, without specifying what pressure the powers could apply.

But beyond such pledges the meeting did not devise any concrete ways to resolve the main problem standing in the way of peace — factional divisions. Without that, progress in ending the violence and reducing Syria's human misery can only be marginal and temporary.

Kerry said as much to reporters, declaring that to end the conflict "a variety of competing interests are going to have to be reconciled."

"Those involved in this conflict with competing agendas are going to have to prioritize peace," he said.

Before the meeting, Xie Xiaoyan, China's envoy to the ISSG talks, told reporters that "We hope all sides could together make efforts to achieve a real ceasefire and make further progress in humanitarian aid (in Syria)."

"This is a critical moment. We realize the role of the ceasefire and more openness to humanitarian access. No matter how difficult these issues are, we should all realize how important it is. We should also have patience. Incremental progress will be made, and final solutions will come," he said.

Years of civil war in Syria have led to humanitarian disasters and many Syrians have fled to other countries and regions, triggering a refugee crisis in the European Union (EU) and the rise of the Islamic State.

The ISSG, co-chaired by Moscow and Washington, was formed in November 2015 to end the Syrian war. The EU, the Arab League, China, Iran, Turkey and the United Nations are also members of the group.

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