Syria needs proxy peace to replace proxy war, top EU diplomat says | Reuters

By Gabriela Baczynska

BRUSSELS Syria needs a "proxy peace" supported by the international community instead of the proxy war that has raged for six years and killed some 320,000 people, top European Union diplomat Federica Mogherini said on Tuesday.The war has displaced millions and continues unabated, largely due to the international community's failure to agree on how to end it, with the United States and Russia and their respective regional allies backing rival sides.EU capital Brussels will host an international conference on Syria on April 5, hoping to create a new momentum. It has, however, long played only a marginal role in international efforts to resolve the conflict.Mogherini has for months been talking to eight regional players in the Middle East, including Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Lebanon, seeking to find any minimum common ground between them on what the future peace could look like.

"Our work with them will continue both in the present, in terms of supporting the Syrian refugees that they host... but also in terms of turning somehow a proxy war into a proxy peace," Mogherini told reporters."I believe there is some common ground that can be found within international players, with the regional actors that can facilitate this process."The 28-nation bloc, a leading aid donor, has threatened not to pay for reconstruction work should Russia and its ally Syrian President Bashar al-Assad crush the Western-backed opposition entirely.

EU officials say the Middle East states agreed they did not want a frozen conflict in Syria or have it break apart, as it would continue to feed instability on their doorstep for years.The EU has fed that to the U.N. Syria negotiator who opened in late February another round of talks in Geneva between Damascus and rebel and opposition groups seeking to oust Assad.

"I believe there can be a space for all international players and especially all regional actors... (to) see that it's far more convenient at this moment to turn this into a proxy peace and allow Syria to restart somehow," Mogherini said. She will present her thoughts to a meeting of EU's foreign ministers on April 3.A separate, Russia-led Syria talks were derailed on Tuesday over a boycott by rebels backed by Turkey. (Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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Updated Date: Mar 14, 2017 23:47:03 IST

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