2016-10-15 18:44:00

Fresh push for Syria ceasefire despite US-Russia tensions

(Vatican Radio) Fresh diplomatic talks were were under way Saturday in a new effort to try to end the Syrian conflict which has killed more than 400,000 people and drove hundreds of thousands of refugees into Europe. The meeting in Lausanne, Swizerland, between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and top diplomats from the United Nations and regional powers, is the first since Washington halted bilateral negotiations with Moscow last month. 

Listen to the report by Stefan Bos

With the Syrian and Russian governments pressing an offensive against rebel-held parts in Syria's devastated city of Aleppo, no one was predicting 
a quick breakthrough in peace talks.   

Days of deadly Russian air strikes in Aleppo prompted Kerry to end U.S.-Russian talks on Syria, including discussions over a proposed military alliance against militants liked to the Islamic State and al-Qaida-terror groups. 

Last week he accused Russia of war crimes for allegedly targeting hospitals and civilian infrastructure in the Arab country, charges Moscow denies.


The top envoys are now looking at how to revive the short-lived cease-fire in Syria, which broke down last month after Damascus launched the new offensive backed by Russian air power.

Yet, ahead of the talks, Lavrov was already quoted as saying he had no "special expectations" for the latest diplomatic effort. 

And U.S. officials said Kerry only hopes "to explore ideas" for ending the five-year conflict, which has killed hundreds of thousands of people, including many children.

With peace still far away, aid workers have urged all sides to at least impose a 72-hour ceasefire to deliver much needed aid to the worst hit areas. But even that appeal was met with skepticism by officials participating in Saturday's talks. 

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