Syria's civil war has taken more than 100,000 lives, a tragic milestone announced by the United Nations chief Thursday along with an appeal for the warring factions to abandon the bloodletting and negotiate peace.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry met at U.N. headquarters in New York to discuss the Middle East's myriad crises, including the nearly 2½-year-old Syrian war and the paralyzed effort to find a two-state solution to the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov have been talking since May about jointly hosting a Syrian peace conference in Geneva that would bring together representatives of the regime of President Bashar Assad and the rebel factions fighting to oust him. Neither side has agreed to sit down with the other without conditions, and Kerry and Lavrov represent governments that are sharply divided over their respective aid to the insurgents and Assad's forces.
“More than 100,000 people have been killed, and millions of people have either been displaced or become refugees in neighboring countries," Ban told reporters as he headed in to his closed-door meeting with Kerry. "We have to bring this to an end.”
“There is no military solution to Syria,” Kerry added. “There is only a political solution, and that will require leadership in order to bring people to the table.”
Both senior diplomats pledged to intensify efforts to get the Syrian combatants to Geneva. But neither offered any indication that the increasingly sectarian war is any closer to an end than during last year's abortive U.N.-led attempt to negotiate a solution.