U.N. Envoy Urges Syria Ceasefires to Build on Talks


U.N. peace envoy Staffan de Mistura on Monday urged new ceasefires in Syria to build on diplomatic efforts to end the country's four-year war.

Speaking at the end of a trip to Damascus to brief the government on international talks in Vienna, De Mistura said ceasefires would show the political discussions were having an impact.

"What we need is also some facts on the ground, some ceasefires, some reductions of violence," he said in Damascus before leaving Syria.

"That would make a big difference, to give a feeling to the Syrian people that the Vienna atmosphere is producing effects to them."

De Mistura on Sunday met Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem to discuss international talks held this week in Vienna on the conflict.

The talks brought together diplomats from 17 nations, as well as the United Nations and the European Union, but included no Syrian government or opposition representation.

Participants agreed to ask the United Nations to broker a peace deal between the regime and opposition to clear the way for a new constitution and U.N.-supervised elections.

But divisions remain on the fate of President Bashar Assad, with Russia and Iran resisting Western and Saudi pressure to force the Syrian leader from power.

Another round of international talks is expected in two weeks' time.

De Mistura has raised previously the possibility of local ceasefires in Syria, but his efforts to apply the idea to second city Aleppo proved fruitless.

More than 250,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011 with anti-government protests.

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