UN, AL chiefs agree on joint efforts to resume Geneva talks on Syria
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Nabil El-Araby, secretary-general of the Arab League (AL), on Saturday agreed to jointly push for the resumption of the Geneva talks on the settlement of the three-year-old conflict in Syria, Xinhua reported.
The UN chief, who is currently on his official visit to the United Arab Emirates, met with El-Araby earlier Saturday in the country's capital Abu Dhabi, said the UN spokesperson office in a readout issued to the press here.
"During their discussion on Syria, they agreed to work together to resume the Geneva talks," the spokesperson office said.
Two rounds of talks this year, the first in January followed by a second in February, saw both sides sticking to their positions and yielded only modest cooperation on a humanitarian issue related to aid access in the long-besieged old city of Homs. A third round has been planned but not yet scheduled.
The office also said that the two secretary-generals agreed that "the planned presidential elections in Syria are not compatible with moving forward."
"They also both expressed their concern at the continuing violence and humanitarian situation in the country," it added.
On April 21, Syria's parliament voted to hold presidential elections on June 3, despite objections from opposition leaders. The election announcement also angered Western powers and their regional allies, which have labeled the upcoming poll as a "parody of democracy."
Opposition leaders questioned the integrity and transparency of conducting elections during an ongoing war that has transformed many Syrian cities and suburbs into battlefields, which would make voting in these areas extremely difficult.
According to the UN, well over 100,000 people have been killed and an estimated 9 million others driven from their homes since opposition protesters first sought to oust President Bashar al-Assad and his government in March 2011. In addition, there are currently more than 2.4 million Syrian refugees registered in the region.