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US, Russia needed for Syria peace: Key

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 21/09/2016

Prime Minister John Key has told the United States and Russia to show leadership in finding a way to reach peace in Syria.

Mr Key presided over an intense showdown in the United Nations Security Council on Thursday morning (NZT) as the US and Russia tussled over the bloody conflict in Syria.

New Zealand, a non-permanent member of the Security Council for a two-year term, holds the rotating presidency in September.

It followed carnage in recent days including an attack on a convoy of trucks carrying food and medical aid and a bungled coalition bombing raid involving Australian aircraft that killed at least 60 Syrian soldiers.

"After more than five years of violence, Syria has become a byword for failure," Mr Key said.

"It is critical that we rewrite this narrative of failure, and help set Syria on a path to peace."

He urged Russia and the US to show leadership and not let the opportunity for peace slip away.

However, in past days US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov have tossed blame on each other, as well as other parties, for the failure of a ceasefire in the war-torn nation and an attack on an aid convoy which killed 20 people.

Speaking to reporters after his address, Mr Key said there was a lot of emotion from speakers at the council, but they all agreed on what needed to happen.

"The only way forward for any kind of hope for the people of Syria is for the ceasefire to hold, for the cessation of hostilities, for aid to be able to flow to support the people of Syria, and ultimately for there to be a political solution."

He said the UN "subcontracting" action over Syria to the squabbling US and Russia was still a practical mechanism to find a way forward because they were major players.

"Without their agreement and the influence that has to be brought to bear on the Assad government, you won't find the solution."

Last year the UN endorsed a road map for peace in Syria which included a nationwide ceasefire as the first step towards a political solution to the conflict which has killed around 300,000 and displaced nearly half of the country's 11 million population.

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