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G8 leaders call for Syrian peace talks

Holy Father also implores world leaders to push for immediate ceasefire to Syrian conflict

World leaders have called for Syrian peace talks to begin as soon as possible in Geneva after Pope Francis led calls for the leaders of the G8, who met in the North of Ireland this week, to push for an immediate ceasefire in the Middle Eastern country.

After adopting this statement, UK Prime Minister David Cameron said the leaders had managed ‘to overcome fundamental differences’ but no timetable for the peace talks was given.

On the eve of a two-day G8 summit, the Holy Father wrote to David Cameron calling on the leaders to act fast to end a conflict that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.

“I earnestly hope that the summit will help to obtain an immediate and lasting ceasefire and to bring all parties in the conflict to the negotiating table,” the Pope said. “Peace demands a far-sighted renunciation of certain claims, in order to build together a more equitable and just peace.”

The G8 statement did say any future transitional government should be ‘formed by mutual consent’ but further measures to achieve this were not forthcoming.

The US has vowed to send military aid to rebel forces battling to topple President Bashar al-Assad after saying it had proof that the regime had crossed a ‘red line’ by using chemical weapons on a small scale, but Russia is dismissive of the US claims.

The United Nations announced that it believed approximately 93,000 people had been killed in the conflict.

“Unfortunately, as the study indicates, this is most likely a minimum casualty figure,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said. “The true number of those killed is potentially much higher.

“This extremely high rate of killings, month after month, reflects the drastically deteriorating pattern of the conflict over the past year.”

Reports also tally the deaths of more than 6500 minors. More than a quarter of them were younger than the age of 10 years old, the report said.


—     This story ran in full in the June 21 print edition of the SCO



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