U.N. chief says world has “rare moment” to end violence in Syria

Ban Ki-moon
Ban Ki-moon

Ban also called on G20 leaders for support as Europe grappled with tens of thousands of migrants, largely Syrians, fleeing war, describing it as the ‘biggest crisis of forced displacement since World War Two’


U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Sunday he welcomed the renewed sense of urgency to find a solution to the civil war in Syria after the Paris attacks, adding the world had a “rare moment” of diplomatic opportunity to end the violence.

Russia, the United States and powers from Europe and the Middle East outlined a plan on Saturday for a political process in Syria leading to elections within two years, a day after gunmen and suicide bombers from Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) went on a rampage through Paris, killing at least 127 people.

At a news conference during the Group of 20 (G20) meeting of world leaders in Turkey, Ban described the attacks as ‘barbaric,’ saying no country or city was immune from the threat of terrorism and the world needed a robust response.

He said the Syria roadmap agreed on Saturday was ‘encouraging and ambitious’ and urged its implementation as quickly as possible to pave the way for a nationwide ceasefire in Syria.

“I urge the participants to move beyond their differences so that they can push for a nationwide ceasefire,” Ban said. “After years of division this is a rare moment of diplomatic opportunity to end the violence.”

The fate of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad remains a key disagreement between his ally Russia and the West. Moscow has for weeks been carrying out air strikes in Syria in support of Assad’s forces.

The West and its allies including Turkey say he must leave office, while Moscow and Tehran support elections in which he could stand.

Ban also called on G20 leaders for support as Europe grappled with tens of thousands of migrants, largely Syrians, fleeing war, describing it as the ‘biggest crisis of forced displacement since World War Two’.

“This is not only a crisis of numbers. It is a crisis of global solidarity,” Ban said, urging European countries coping with displacement not to reduce humanitarian aid.


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