India welcomes ‘much-needed’ Syria peace talks in Kazakhstan


Describing the nearly three-week Syrian truce as a “much-needed positive development”, India has said it is “encouraging” that the peace talks in the Kazakh capital aimed at ending the brutal war are committed to Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

“We look forward to the outcome of the direct talks scheduled for later this month in Astana. It is encouraging that the process is committed to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic and is led and owned by Syria,” India’s Deputy Permanent Representative Tanmaya Lal said yesterday in a UN Security Council debate on the situation in the Middle East here.

Lal was referring to the Syrian peace talks scheduled for January 23 that have been organised by Turkey, Russia and Iran.

UN Deputy spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters yesterday that UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura has received an invitation to attend the peace talks.

Lal added that “meaningful involvement” of the UN is also essential in the Syrian peace process.

Lal described the truce in Syria, which came into effect on December 30, as a “much-needed positive development.”

He told the Council that India welcomes “all efforts” to end violence in Syria and to jumpstart the political process.

The Indian diplomat, however, voiced concern over the fragile situation in the Middle East region, saying peace and reconciliation continue to be elusive.

Violence and terror continue unabated, leading to large scale suffering and exodus of refugees. The effects of these are being felt far and wide. The international efforts have, however, proven largely insufficient and ineffective in addressing the multiple challenges to peace and security in the region,” Lal said.

Lal voiced optimism that despite a gloomy backdrop, the new year will usher in hopeful developments in the context of the Middle East Peace Process, the Syrian truce and the formation of the unity government in Lebanon.

“Whether it is ‘salam’ or shalom , the deep seated yearning for peace across peoples is only too evident. We hope that 2017 will bring about a surge in ‘diplomacy for peace ,” as has been called for by the new Secretary General, Lal said.

“Pragmatism and compromise are essential to move forward in the larger interest. History has shown that only peaceful co-existence is sustainable over long term,” he added.

On Palestine, he said the lack of any significant forward movement continues to cause concern and emphasised that only a negotiated two-State solution can bring sustainable peace and lasting security.

“The imperative need is of restraint and moderation on all sides. We stress that it is the collective responsibility of the two sides to ensure that they move closer to a solution,” he said.

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