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World leaders to discuss Syria war at UN next week as US, Russia try to shore up 'fragile' truce deal

John Kerry (L) and Sergei Lavrov (R) will attend a special council meeting on Syria on Wednesday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting. Photograph: (AFP)

Washington, DC, United States Sep 17, 2016, 06.18 AM (IST)
As the world leaders gather at United Nations (UN) next week to attend the 71st General Assembly's high-level meet, Syria war would remain the talking point with the United States and Russia trying to shore up a fragile truce deal, Reuters reported today. 

US President Obama, who is likely to push for a boost in global refugee aid in the coming week, would be among the 135 heads  of state attending the General Assembly. 

"While many conflicts are causing enormous pain, none is causing so much death, destruction and widespread instability as the worsening war in Syria,"  UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who will step down at the end of 2016 after a decade in the job, told reporters on Wednesday. 

"Major countries with influence have a duty to use their influence and seize this latest opportunity to pursue a political solution."

About 5 million Syrians have fled the country, and some 6.5 million have been internally displaced during the conflict that has spanned for more than five years, according to Reuters. 

Differences crop up 

At the high-level meet,  Russia had wanted the council to endorse its Syria truce deal with the United States. However, on Friday, it said a resolution was unlikely because "Washington did not want to share the documents detailing the  Syria ceasefire agreement with the 15-member UN security council."   

The ceasefire outlined a joint agreement, signed by the US secretary of state John Kerry and his foreign counterpart Sergey Lavrov on September 9, aims at halting the fight in Syria.

Disagreements over the joint deal between the two countries led to an abrupt cancellation of a council meeting that was supposed to happen on Friday.

Russia, Syria's main ally, had been pushing for a resolution to endorse the agreement, but the United States has been reluctant to release the details of the agreement, citing security concerns for some US-backed groups fighting in Syria.  

"Most likely we are not going to have a resolution at the Security Council because the United States does not want to share those documents with the members of the Security Council," Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin said.

Churkin said he had presented two separate draft resolutions endorsing the deal, but said the American side had tried to introduce changes.

"They in their typical way came up with a completely different thing -- which is trying to interpret and re-interpret the agreement," he said adding that “they are not doing the right thing”.

More Syria meetings next week 

John Kerry and Sergei Lavrov will attend a special council meeting on Syria on Wednesday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting.

"We believe the Security Council can play an important role in the resolution of the crisis in Syria," the US spokesman said.

"However, right now we are focused on the implementation of the agreement brokered by Secretary Kerry and Foreign Minister Lavrov, particularly the urgent need for humanitarian aid to reach Syrians in need."

Obama expresses concern over deal 

Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama on Friday voiced "deep concern" that key elements of a Syria ceasefire are not being upheld.

The White House has said that despite decreased violence across the war-ravaged country, the Syrian regime continues to block the flow of critical humanitarian aid. 

Obama reportedly told aides that the next steps in the deal, closer military coordination with Russia,  will require "seven continuous days of reduced violence and sustained humanitarian access."

Some within the Pentagon have expressed deep reservations about the agreement forcing Obama to referee disputes.

White House has repeatedly argued that the ceasefire will offer the desperately needed respite from a brutal five-year civil war that has killed 300,000 people.

It says that talks are the only way the Syrian war will come to an end.

(WION with inputs from Reuters, AFP)

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