France’s Foreign Minister will be travelling to Russia and the United States on Thursday and Friday, hoping to persuade both sides to adopt a U.N. Security Council resolution to impose a ceasefire in Syria.
More so, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry discussed the situation in Syria in a telephone conversation on Wednesday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry reported.
The two also exchanged views on the crisis in Ukraine and on cooperation in the United Nations Security Council on North Korea, the ministry said, adding that the conversation had been held at the request of the U.S. side.
The trip by Jean-Marc Ayrault came only after the utter collapse of a ceasefire brokered by Russia and the U.S. last month, and which has been followed by intense Syrian and Russian bombing of opposition-held areas of the northern city of Aleppo. Washington broke off talks with Moscow on Monday, accusing Russia of breaking its commitments.
“This trip is in the framework of efforts by France to get a resolution adopted at the U.N. Security Council opening the path for a ceasefire in Aleppo and aid access for populations that need it so much,” Ayrault’s ministry said.
The 15-member council began negotiations on Monday on a French and Spanish draft resolution that urges Russia and the United States to ensure an immediate truce in Aleppo and to “put an end to all military flights over the city.”
Russia and China have previously protected the Syrian regime from council action by blocking several resolutions, including a bid to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court.
Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said on Monday that Moscow was engaged in discussions on the draft text even if he not especially enthusiastic on its language.
Ayrault, who has accused Syria, backed by Russia and Iran, of carrying out war crimes as part of an “all-out war” on its people, travels to Moscow on Thursday and Washington on Friday.
French officials have said that if Moscow were to oppose the resolution they would be ready to put it forward anyway to force Moscow into a veto, underscoring its complicity with the Syrian regime.
The draft text, seen by Reuters, also asks U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon to propose options for a U.N.-supervised monitoring of a truce and threatens to “take further measures” in the event of non-compliance by “any party to the Syrian domestic conflict.”
Since the collapse of the latest ceasefire in September, Russian and Syrian warplanes have launched their biggest offensive on Aleppo’s besieged opposition-held sectors, in a battle that has become a potentially decisive turning point in the five-year civil war.