April 24, 2018 / 12:06 PM / 10 months ago

U.N. and EU use Syria donors' conference to demand return to peace talks

U.N. Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura attends a joint news conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov following their meeting in Moscow, Russia April 20, 2018. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union and the United Nations on Tuesday called for swift political talks to end the long war in Syria, saying the latest territorial gains by Damascus and its allies had not brought peace any closer.

The U.N special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, spoke at an international donor conference hosted by the European Union in Brussels, which will seek more than $6 billion in aid for the country.

“We’re seeing in last few weeks, days ... that military gains, territorial gains and military escalation do not bring a political solution, has not brought any change. On the contrary,” he told a joint news conference with the EU’s top diplomat, Federica Mogherini.

Mogherini also spoke of the need to “return to the political process under the U.N. auspices ... to start real, meaningful political negotiations that are clearly the only way forward for the country.”

The proxy war, pitting Damascus, Russia and Iran against rebels seeking to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Turkey and the West has escalated again in recent weeks with an offensive to quash the last opposition strongholds.

Islamic militants have also spread havoc in the war, which has killed half a million people and driven millions from their homes.

Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska, Robert-Jan Bartunek

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