Photographer: Mohamad Abazeed/AFP via Getty Images

UN Secretary General Says Syrian Crisis End Is ‘Very Far’ Away

  • Guterres says needs to be a political solution to civil war
  • ‘It’s threatening the lives of all of us, everywhere,’ he says

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said there’s no end in sight for the Syrian conflict, which is raising threat levels across the world.

“We are very far from the end of the tunnel” on Syria, Guterres said. There needs to be a political solution to the civil war, which is creating instability that heightens the risk of terrorism, he said. “It’s threatening the lives of all of us, everywhere,” he said, speaking in an interview with Bloomberg Television at the International Monetary Fund in Washington.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres discusses climate change, the conflict in Syria and the global economy

(Source: Bloomberg)

The U.S. and its allies are trying to increase pressure on Russia to abandon its support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which has been crucial in keeping the regime in power after six years of civil war. That conflict has become enmeshed with the battle against Islamic State and drawn in the U.S., Russia, Iran and Turkey, as well as multiple extremist groups and militias backed by regional powers such as Saudi Arabia.

In U.S. President Donald Trump’s first direct foray into the conflict as president, he ordered a strike this month against a Syrian air base the U.S. government says had been used for chemical weapons attacks targeting Syrian civilians.

Guterres, who took the UN helm in January, is presiding over the organization at a time when the institution’s effectiveness is being called into question.

Trump has been critical of the UN, and proposed cutting its funding. The U.S. is the biggest contributor, paying 22 percent of the organization’s core budget and 28.5 percent of its peacekeeping costs. Trump has also said that the UN has potential, according to Guterres, adding that when he met Trump on Friday they discussed international pressure points, including Syria.

“It’s my role, by reforming the UN, to transform this potential into an even more effective reality,” Guterres said. “For the most important problems of this world today, there is no solution without the positive engagement and commitment of the United States.”

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