No peace deal in Syria without US role, says opposition

A Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighter walks at the northern part of the Tabqa dam on the Euphrates River, Syria. (Reuters)
Updated 29 March 2017
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No peace deal in Syria without US role, says opposition

GENEVA: A political deal to end the Syrian conflict is not possible without a strong US role, the opposition’s chief negotiator said, warning that Washington’s absence was threatening ongoing peace talks.
Lead negotiator for the main opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC), Mohammed Sabra, said the UN-backed talks in Geneva remained “stalled.”
“There can be no real and viable political solution without the presence of the Americans,” he said.
The US has a “moral duty” to throw its weight behind efforts to end the six-year conflict, he added.
Sabra warned that a deal would be impossible “if the Russians do not withdraw their (military) support for the regime.”
Sabra also reiterated the HNC’s often-repeated claim that the Syrian regime’s delegation, headed by the country’s ambassador to the UN Bashar Al-Jaafari, was “not seriously involved” in the talks.
“Until now, we don’t have a partner in these negotiations,” he insisted.
His comments came amid a fifth round of negotiations in Geneva being mediated by UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura.
Sabra insisted that “once the transitional government is formed,” Assad’s regime would end, and he “and his clique will be referred to a fair trial” for its crimes.
Meanwhile, Syrian engineers worked on Tuesday to open spillways and ease pressure on a major dam across the Euphrates River, amid a pause in a US-backed assault to capture it from Daesh, a witness said.
The Tabqa dam is a key strategic target in the military campaign to isolate and capture the Syrian city of Raqqa, Daesh’s biggest urban stronghold.
The engineers arrived from the dam’s northern entrance which the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance captured last week. The dam’s southern reaches remain in the hands of the militants.
Work on the dam was being carried out after the regime said it had been damaged by US airstrikes and could collapse, with the risk of catastrophic flooding.
A senior Russian general accused the coalition of targeting Syria’s infrastructure — including the dam.
Col. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi of the military’s General Staff said the coalition was trying to “completely destroy critical infrastructure in Syria and complicate post-war reconstruction as much as possible.”


UK foreign minister Hunt urges EU: Get serious in Brexit talks

Updated 22 September 2018
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UK foreign minister Hunt urges EU: Get serious in Brexit talks

  • Hunt said that people in Britain were increasingly content to leave the bloc without a deal
  • UK PM May said talks had hit an impasse and demanded new proposals and respect from EU leaders

LONDON: British foreign minister Jeremy Hunt said on Saturday that the European Union should end its blanket refusals of British proposals in Brexit talks, as any belief that Britain would capitulate was misplaced.
Hunt, who voted ‘remain’ in the 2016 referendum on EU membership, said that people in Britain were increasingly content to leave the bloc without a deal, a day after Prime Minister Theresa May said talks had hit an impasse and demanded new proposals and respect from EU leaders.
“If the EU’s view is that just by saying no to every proposal made by the United Kingdom, we will eventually capitulate and end up either with a Norway option or indeed staying in the EU, if that is there view then they’ve profoundly misjudged he British people,” Hunt told BBC radio.
“We may be polite, but we have a bottom line. And so they need to engage with us now in seriousness.”