United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has reiterated that only Syrian people must be allowed to decide the future of President Bashar al-Assad.
“The future of Assad must be decided by the Syrian people,” Ban said in an interview with Spanish newspapers published on Saturday.
The remarks came a day after the conclusion of international negotiations aimed at resolving the crisis in Syria, held in the Austrian capital city of Vienna.
The UN secretary general also stated that the crisis has already left a significant number of casualties and caused much damage, calling for broader efforts to end the turmoil.
“The Syrian government insists that President Assad takes part [in any transitional government],” but others, especially Western countries, say that “there is no place for him,” Ban stated.
“But because of that we have lost three years, there have been more than 250,000 dead, more than 13 million displaced within Syria… more than 50 percent of hospitals, schools and infrastructure have been destroyed. There’s no time to lose.”
Ban added that participants in the Syria talks should focus on issues other than the future of President Assad.
“It is totally unfair and unreasonable that the fate of one person takes the whole political negotiation process hostage. It is unacceptable,” he said.
In a joint statement at the end of the Vienna talks, the participants said “substantial differences remain” but it was “imperative to accelerate all diplomatic efforts to end the war.”