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UN address timely: Key

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 25/09/2016
Prime Minister John Key © Getty Images Prime Minister John Key

Prime Minister John Key believes his words to the United Nations on the Syrian conflict came at the right time, despite Aleppo later suffering the heaviest bombardment of the five-year-old conflict.

Mr Key last week told the Security Council leaders meeting that the US and Russia had to show leadership and bring an end to the violence.

He admitted his message had been "a little gutsy" but denied it had been a waste of time.

The meeting happened at an important time - when there was a threat of the cease-fire ending.

"The meeting was just as important, in fact more important when it was looking like the cease-fire could really break down, because it hasn't broken down yet," he told TV3's Paul Henry programme on Monday morning.

However, government warplanes have since pounded the rebel-held eastern side of the city of Aleppo. More civilians have been killed and the US has accused Russia of barbarism in supporting it.

Despite that, Mr Key said both the US and Russia wanted to find a solution - for different reasons.

The US wanted to maintain president Bashar al-Assad to prove they stood by their man, while Russian president Vladimir Putin wanted to exert influence.

"He wants to prove to the world 'I have influence way beyond the economic power of Russia, you want to fix world problems, you want to resolve things; come to Moscow'," Mr Key said.

Meanwhile, New Zealand's representative in New York, Carolyn Schwalger, has told the UN of "utter dismay" at the latest attack on Aleppo.

"What is most appalling is that these actions are shattering any remaining hopes we had for maintaining the cessation of hostilities and getting the peace process back on track," she said.

A political and not a military solution was the only way for peace.

She appealed for the Syrian government to ground its planes, and for Russia and Iran to do anything they could to stop the attacks.

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