Verbatim transcript of remarks delivered by the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria, Mr. Staffan de Mistura, prior to his meeting today with the German Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, in Berlin

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22 July 2016

I’m looking forward to meet our friend and trusted supporter of the UN efforts, yourself, Minister, and Germany. I will be having an opportunity of discussing exactly what you said. We will be certainly on our side saying thank you, once again, to Germany, because, not only you’re a country that everyone in the region has trust in and has good relations with, and certainly you can exercise a positive influence as you always did. Secondly, you’ve been always supporting the humanitarian and the political efforts of the UN. So, we will be talking probably about the humanitarian and the political aspects.

On the humanitarian side, let me say I totally agree with you. The issue of the humanitarian situation in Aleppo is going to be, and is concerning for all of us, and I’m sure we will elaborate on that. If the city of Aleppo, which is iconic, which is special in the hearts and minds of all of us, and certainly of the Syrians, is completely isolated from the north and from the south, we may have a situation of complete besiegement, and that means 300, 000 people, which would be in need of help, at least, and could potentially be wanting to go away from the city, and the Syrian people are very reluctant refugees, they don’t want to leave their country. So there was a proposal yesterday by the humanitarian taskforce to actually ask for a pause of 48 hours, in order to be able to at least allow humanitarian aid to reach the people of Aleppo. Both sides by the way because both roads are being on and off cut-off.

On the political track, let me take this opportunity of reiterating two points, and I think it’s good to do it in Berlin, based on the good relationship that we have and support you’re giving to the UN.

Point number one, the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and, modestly, myself, are determined to actually look for a proper date, in August, for re-launching the Intra-Syrian Talks in Geneva. At the same time, we have been watching very carefully, and you’ve been able to do it in Washington, I was just now in Ankara, the fact that there have been an important series of meetings in Moscow, between Secretary Kerry and the top Russian Federation leadership. Those talks were intensive and lasted two days, and from what we understand, they came up with some type of understanding on some steps to be taken. While we are taking here, I think that there is some intensive discussions on the “devil is in the details” in order to make sure that those steps take place. Certainly, we are eagerly waiting for those steps to become concrete and visible. If that takes place, I know, and we can say, it would be a great help, to make the Intra-Syrian Talks starting in a good mood, aiming for what they should be, an opportunity for credible, real, steps in the direction of political transition.

I was in Ankara, and I can confirm that the Turkish authorities, despite of the recent events, are very serious about focusing on the issue of Syria and are fully aware that there is a need for addressing a political solution there. That of course also applies to other regional players like Iran, but that’s why Germany is well-placed, in view of your credibility and influence. So I’m looking forward, I’m in it and I heard it, and I heard it from others so it’s not only me. That’s why I’m looking forward to these discussions. Timing is crucial. The next three weeks, believe me or not, are going to be extremely important to give us a chance, not only for the Intra-Syrian Talks, but also for some possibility of reducing violence in Syria.

Thank you.