Arab, EU FMs urge intra-Syria talks, condemn Aleppo attacks

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CAIRO – Arab and European foreign ministers urged on Tuesday intra-Syria talks as basis for political settlement and strongly condemned Syrian regime’s recent attacks on Aleppo, the Arab League (AL) and the European Union (EU) stated following their fourth ministerial meeting in Cairo, China’s Xinhua news agency reported.

“The ministers stressed that intra-Syria talks are the only way for a credible and genuine political transition based on power sharing as well as lasting peace,” the two bodies said in a declaration issued after the meeting held at the AL headquarters in the Egyptian capital city.

The declaration “strongly condemned the deliberate and indiscriminate attack on eastern Aleppo by the regime and its allies, and the targeting of civilians and humanitarian infrastructure.”

The fighting and bombardment in Syria have recently escalated in war-torn Aleppo city, where the army of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad supported by Russian forces launched massive attacks to clear the city of militants, leaving dozens of civilians killed and hundreds displaced and taking control of the ruined rebel-held city.

In his opening remarks, AL Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul-Gheit warned that Syria “has become a theater for international polarizations and regional ambitions all at the expense of the Syrian people who suffer one of the gravest humanitarian crises.”

He said that a political settlement is “the only possible solution for this crisis,” urging the United Nations Security Council to bear its responsibility to restore peace in Syria and the EU to use its political weight to put an end to the crisis.

For her part, EU High Representative and Vice-President Frederica Mogherini said that “what happens in Syria, in Libya or even in Yemen has a direct impact on Europe,” stressing the EU is an “essential partner” for growth, peace and security in the Arab world.

“Peace cannot be built on violence against civilians, on the repeated violations of humanitarian law, on the entire cities turned into ruins,” said Mogherini in her statement at the joint meeting, referring to Syria’s Aleppo.

Since it erupted in March 2011, the Syrian crisis has claimed the lives of about half a million people and displaced more than 10 million.

With regards to the Middle East peace process and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the AL-EU declaration stated that the two-state solution is “the only way to achieve an enduring peace, and to that end the international community should work with all relevant stakeholders to end the Israeli occupation that began in 1967.”

The Arab and European foreign ministers reaffirmed the need for “lasting and comprehensive peace” in the Middle East region, in line with relevant UNSC resolutions as well as the land for peace principle, highlighting the importance of the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative.

The ministers also reaffirmed their commitment to the unity, sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Libya and Yemen, welcoming Lebanon’s election of a new president and formation of a new national unity government. They also discussed the situation in Iraq, Sudan and Somalia.

As for Yemen, the ministers called for “immediate and permanent ceasefire” as the first step to resume an inclusive political process, rejecting the Houthi group’s unilateral formation of a so-called “national salvation government” in Sanaa.

The concluding declaration vowed continuous strategic cooperation and dialogue and welcomed the suggestion of holding a regular Euro-Arab summit to strengthen their relations and give strategic guidance to their cooperation.

— BERNAMA

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