December 8, 2016 / 8:20 PM / a year ago

U.N. Syria mediator says he plans to meet Trump team members

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - United Nations Syria mediator Staffan de Mistura said on Thursday he planned to meet “people around the team” of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump to discuss the nearly six-year conflict in the country.

U.N. mediator for Syria Staffan de Mistura attends a news conference after a meeting at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, December 1, 2016. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

“The plan is to meet some people around the team of President (elect) Trump,” de Mistura told reporters, adding that meetings would take place in New York and Washington.

De Mistura briefed the U.N. Security Council behind closed doors on Thursday afternoon and said he would remain in the United States until Tuesday. He declined to elaborate on who he would meet with from Trump’s team and when.

De Mistura told reporters after the council briefing that he has ideas on “how President (elect) Trump’s team would be able to look at the fight on terrorism in very effective ways.”

He said last month little was known about Trump’s Middle East policy, but there might be a chance of progress in ending the Syrian war if Trump stuck to his campaign pledge to fight Islamic State with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

On Thursday, the 15-member Security Council discussed the Russian announcement that the Syrian army had stopped combat operations in eastern Aleppo to allow for the evacuation of civilians, Spain’s U.N. Ambassador Roman Oyarzun Marchesi, president of the council for December, said after the meeting.

“We didn’t get any information from the Russian announcement on how long it will be,” de Mistura said of the truce.

Since July 2014, de Mistura has been trying to broker peace talks between the warring parties in Syria. He was appointed after former U.N. chief Kofi Annan and then Lakhdar Brahimi quit in frustration at the global deadlock over how to end the war.

“I did raise, and to a certain degree insisted, that perhaps now is the time to actually either look seriously at a possible renewal of looking where and how we can have political discussions,” de Mistura said of the council briefing.

“Otherwise we will leave with the impression, which no one wants to have, that there is only a military victory or military solution,” he said.

A crackdown by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on pro-democracy protesters in 2011 sparked a civil war and Islamic State militants have used the chaos to seize territory in Syria and Iraq. Half of Syria’s 22 million people have been uprooted and more than 400,000 killed.

Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Writing by Eric Beech; Editing by Eric Walsh and David Gregorio

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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