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Syrian war ‘a cancer on a global scale’, says incoming UN chief

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The Syrian conflict “has become a cancer on a global scale,” incoming UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has said, while hoping Washington and Moscow overcome their differences to help end the crisis.

The war has caused “not only the suffering of the Syrian people” but also sparks “violent reactions which in some cases lead to terrorist acts,” the former Portuguese premier told Portugal’s SIC television channel in an interview broadcast Wednesday.

The conflict began in 2011 as an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad but quickly morphed into a civil war after the Syrian government unleashed a brutal crackdown against dissent.

The war has killed more than 310,000 people and forced millions more to flee their homes.

It has since become a complex, multi-front conflict, drawing in global powers as well as militias and militant groups.

While Western powers and some regional states have backed the rebellion, Russia and Iran have thrown their full weight behind Assad’s government.

Guterres termed the conflict a “global threat” and said global powers must decide to end the conflict, something he judged could not be done without external support.

In a separate statement, he said he wants to meet Donald Trump “as soon as possible” and is “determined to establish a constructive dialogue with the new US administration”.

Guterres, who met with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the end of last month, said he hoped for a similar outcome with the American President-elect.

The former Portuguese prime minister takes over from Ban Ki-moon on 1 January amid ongoing bloodshed in Syria and questions over the US role in the world under a Trump presidency.

“I had an excellent working meeting with President Putin and I hope this will also be the case with Donald Trump,” he told Portuguese television channel SIC in an interview Wednesday.

“It is certainly in my interest to visit him as soon as possible,” he said. “The United States is not only the main donor of the United Nations but a fundamental element in its actions.”

Trump on Friday said Washington’s policies at the UN will be different after he takes office.

“As to the UN, things will be different after Jan 20th,” he said on Twitter, referring to the date of his inauguration.

The tweet came after the United States refrained from vetoing the adoption of a Security Council measure calling on Israel – its closest Middle East ally – to halt settlement activities in Palestinian territory.

Guterres said he was “determined to establish a constructive dialogue with the future American administration”.

[Source: Middle East Eye]
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