New UN chief stresses importance of Syria peace talks
GENEVA - The global threats caused by Syria's civil war have become "too dangerous" to go unresolved, the new UN chief said Wednesday, underlining the need for progress at peace talks next week.
Antonio Guterres, who took charge of the world body on January 1, noted that the conflict had triggered instability in the Middle East and terrorist attacks across the world.
"The consequences of this conflict have become too dangerous for everyone", Guterres told reporters at the United Nations in Geneva.
Peace talks among rival sides scheduled to open on Monday in Kazakhstan's capital Astana were brokered by Damascus ally Russia and opposition supporter Turkey, not the UN.
But Guterres voiced hope the negotiations "can lead towards a consolidation of the ceasefire and a freeze in the conflict".
Success in Astana "can help create the conditions for a political process that should resume in Geneva in February that can lead to concrete results", he added.
The Geneva peace process is being led by Guterres's Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura, who has said he wants to restart talks on February 8.
De Mistura has been invited to Astana, but is sending deputies to represent the UN, his office said on Tuesday.
Guterres was making his second trip as secretary general to Geneva, where he worked for a decade as the head of the UN's refugee agency before being named to the body's top job.
He was due to receive Chinese President Xi Jinping later Wednesday.