Amid Syrian violence, only ideas offered at mediators meeting
LAUSANNE, Switzerland — The United States, Russia and seven other would-be Syria mediators ended a 4-hour meeting Saturday without agreement or concrete steps to match what America’s top diplomat described as the urgent crisis in the city of Aleppo. Instead, the envoys said only that new ideas were proposed and more discussions planned.
The lackluster result from the gathering in Switzerland highlighted the world’s inability to find a peaceful path out of a conflict that has killed as many as a half-million people, contributed to Europe’s worst refugee crisis since World War II and created a vast space of instability that the Islamic State group has exploited.
With the Syrian and Russian governments pressing an offensive against rebel-held parts of Aleppo, no one predicted a breakthrough. Yet after last month’s collapse of a cease-fire and even U.S. charges of Russian war crimes, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s portrayal of the result as “exactly what we wanted” sounded unconvincing.
“Nobody wants to do this in a sloppy way,” Kerry said of his new diplomatic effort, no longer between just Washington and Moscow but designed to include all the major international players in Syria’s civil war.
Saturday’s talks included top envoys from Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, Qatar, Iraq, Egypt and Jordan.
Kerry said the discussion was driven by the “urgency of Aleppo, the urgency of trying to find something that works other than military action.”
Ministers offered suggestions that “really might be able to shape some different approaches,” he said, without going into detail.
No official news conference or joint statement followed the meeting.
Kerry said contacts, but not necessarily a meeting, would start anew this week.
On Saturday, Syrian and Russian airstrikes hit several rebel-held neighborhoods amid clashes on the front lines in Syria’s largest city and onetime commercial center, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Aleppo Media Center, an activist collective.