International gathering again puts Syria no closer to peace

From The Associated Press:

NEW YORK (AP) — Another city, another Syria meeting. Another failure.

Tuesday’s gathering of the top U.S. and Russian diplomats, and more than a dozen of their Arab and European counterparts, ended with ritual reaffirmation of a cease-fire that has all but disintegrated, and promises of future negotiations. But it left Syria no closer to peace.

The familiar storyline came as the 5-year-old civil war threatened to enter a darker phase as the United Nations denounced what it called a deliberate attack on a humanitarian convoy, which killed 20 civilians.

“Just when we think it cannot get any worse, the bar of depravity sinks lower,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said.

The White House said the airstrike was launched by Syria’s or Russia’s military, adding that in either case, it held Russia responsible.

The U.N. suspended aid deliveries and a Syrian human rights group reported that the government launched an offensive north of Aleppo in a bid to tighten the siege on rebel-held parts of Syria’s largest city.

Still, the diplomats insisted Syria’s cease-fire wasn’t dead. With few alternatives for trying to end the conflict, they pressed on with a strategy that appeared to impress few and convince no one.

“It’s the only show in town,” British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said bluntly of the talks that are now set to continue later this week.

The discussion led by Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov lasted only about an hour, after the two met privately beforehand. Goals were modest, focused on holding onto what might be salvageable from a week-old truce that had at least temporarily reduced the bloodshed. Gone were the …

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