Syria's Assad says UN envoy's local ceasefire bid "worth studying" -state media

by Reuters
Monday, 10 November 2014 20:38 GMT

(Adds comment by U.N. envoy)

BEIRUT, Nov 10 (Reuters) - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on Monday that a proposal by an international peace mediator to implement local ceasefires starting in the northern city of Aleppo was "worth studying", state media said.

United Nations Syria mediator Staffan de Mistura has cited the northern city of Aleppo as an obvious candidate for "incremental freeze zones" to stop localised fighting and allow better access to aid.

"(Assad) considered the de Mistura initiative worth studying and trying to work on in order to attain its aims to return security to the city of Aleppo," the state news agency said.

While two rounds of peace talks between the government and the political opposition this year failed to halt the war, local ceasefires have brought some relief. Local ceasefires have also been mentioned by the United States and Russia.

De Mistura said he intends "to proceed now expeditiously on working out the modalities of a freeze in Aleppo city, through further discussions with the Syrian authorities, and intensified consultations with all parties concerned."

In a statement, he described his discussions with Assad as "constructive" and said the aim of a freeze would be to de-escalate violence and allow for a return to normalcy for some civilians caught in the conflict.

"Ongoing diplomatic efforts would then also build on such an incremental freezing of military activities to arrive to a national all-inclusive political process," de Mistura said.

A report by London School of Economics released on Monday said small-scale ceasefires may be the best way to ease the suffering of Syrian civilians, citing 35 local negotiations. (Writing by Oliver Holmes, additional reporting by Michelle Nichols at the United Nations; Editing by Ralph Boulton and Andrea Ricci)

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