Assad says ready to study UN 'freeze zones' plans

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Al-Akhbar Management

Published Monday, November 10, 2014

Updated at 3:32 pm (GMT +2): Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Monday he was ready to study a UN plan to "freeze" fighting in the northern city of Aleppo, a statement from his office said.

"President Assad has been informed by (UN envoy Staffan) De Mistura of the main points of his initiative," said the statement issued after the two men held talks in Damascus.

"(Assad) said it was worthy of study and that work on it is needed... in order to re-establish security in Aleppo," it added.

The UN peace envoy for Syria met officials in Damascus to push his efforts to set up "freeze zones" to suspend fighting in some areas including the battered northern city of Aleppo.

According to Syrian Arab National Agency (SANA), Assad underlined the importance of Aleppo, asserting the government's commitment to the safety of civilians across the country.

He said that De Mistura's initiative merits consideration and pursuing its goals of restoring security to Aleppo city.

De Mistura and the Syrian government agreed upon the need to implement Security Council Resolutions 2170 and 2178 and to unite all international efforts in order to combat terrorism in Syria and the region which poses a threat to the entire world.

At the end of the meeting, De Mistura said he intends to continue carrying out his mission with all sides in order to overcome any difficulties and realize stability and peace in Syria.

The meeting was attended by Deputy Prime Minister Foreign and Expatriates Minister Walid Muallem, Presidential Political and Media Advisor Bouthaina Shaaban, and Deputy Foreign and Expatriates Minister Faisal Mekdad.

It was De Mistura's second visit to Syria since he was appointed peace envoy in July, replacing Lakhdar Brahimi.

On October 30, De Mistura presented to the Security Council an "action plan" for Syria that proposed to "freeze" fighting in local areas to allow for aid deliveries and to lay the groundwork for peace talks.

He mentioned the city of Aleppo, a place "of iconic value," as an obvious candidate.

"[Aleppo] is a place that has an iconic value and at the same time is a symbol on its own which we hope could become an opportunity of showing that somewhere in Syria ... some improvement can take place," he said.

A focal point of the ongoing violence since 2011, Syria's second city and commercial center has been divided since a rebel offensive in summer 2012 that left its western side under the control of the Syrian army and its eastern side in the grip of the rebels.

De Mistura presented his plan after visiting key Damascus backer Russia.

Syria has consistently rejected a Turkish-backed plan for buffer or "safe zones" on its territory.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

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