US-Russia deal on Syria could make all the difference, says Special Envoy

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Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator and Special Envoy for Syria brief the press. Photo: UN Photo/Violaine Martin

Concern for civilians trapped in Syria's eastern Aleppo is greater than ever, UN negotiator Staffan de Mistura has warned, as high-level talks between the United States and Russia continue in Geneva.

Speaking on Friday in the Swiss city, the Special Envoy said it was a priority that the two super-powers agree on a way to halt the fighting, so that aid can get through to civilians caught up in the more than five-year conflict.

Here's Daniel Johnson in Geneva.

The humanitarian situation in Syria has reached a new critical phase.

That's the message from UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, who highlighted the plight of up to a reported quarter of a million people in eastern Aleppo – and the importance of the United States and Russia agreeing on deal that could stop the fighting.

He was referring to a meeting in Geneva between US Secretary of State for Defence John Kerry and Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

"Their conclusions could make, let's be frank, make a major difference; one on the renewal on the renewal for re-launching of cessation of hostilities, and in turn would be having a positive impact on the way the political process could be re-launched."

At the Syria Envoy's side, the UN's Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O'Brien said that the situation inside Eastern Aleppo had deteriorated in the past three weeks.

He repeated UN calls for weekly, 48-hour ceasefires before painting a bleak humanitarian picture inside the war-torn country, saying that aid convoys "are not rolling".

And when asked about reported criticism of the UN by aid agencies inside Syria, Mr O'Brien said that he was aware of their concerns, but hoped to work on "confidence-building" measures.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 1’23″

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