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Posted in 2018-05-22 00:25
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, Jan. 25 (Xinhua) -- The Syrian talks in Vienna startedon Thursday with an opening meeting between the governmentdelegation and the UN special envoy to Syria Staffan de Misturaamid a new escalation over the issue of Syrian chemicalweapons.
The government delegation to the Vienna talks, headed by Syria'sUN permanent representative Bashar al-Jaafari, held a meeting withDe Mistura, who said the fresh round of peace talks comes at a""critical moment,"" state news agency SANA reported.
In December, the last round of talks in Geneva ended withoutachieving any progress as the government and opposition delegationswere unable to agree on the thorny issue of President Basharal-Assad's role in the transitional period.
The fresh round of talks targets the constitutional issues inSyria between the warring parties
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, in preparation for the fullimplementation of the UN Security Council resolution 2254, aninternationally-backed text that seeks UN-supervised elections inSyria.
On Jan. 18, De Mistura's deputy Ramzi Ezzedine Ramzi said duringa visit to Damascus that the Syrian government had agreed to takepart in the planned Syrian talks in Vienna, Austria.
Ramzi hoped for a positive engagement in the Vienna talks,linking the success of the Vienna talks with the success of theSochi talks in Russia.
""We are looking forward to a constructive engagement from allSyrian sides whether from the government delegation or theopposition because without doubt, the success of the Vienna talksis the success of the Sochi talks
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,"" he said.
On Wednesday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian saidthere was no sign of a political solution for Syria other thanUN-led peace talks in Vienna, adding that they were the ""lasthope.""
""Today, there is no political perspective that presents itself,other than the meeting that will be held in Vienna tomorrow underthe auspices of the United Nations, where the belligerents will bepresent and where we hope a peace agenda will be mapped out
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However, the Syrian government pins more hope on the upcomingRussian-backed Syrian talks scheduled to take place in Russia'sresort city of Sochi later this month.
The Syrian Foreign Ministry said France and other Western powersare aiming to derail the upcoming Sochi talks by re-stirring theissue of Syrian chemical weapons.
On Tuesday, France announced it was sanctioning 25 people andcompanies over their alleged links to Syria's chemical weaponsprogram, a day after activists claimed the Syrian forces usedchlorine in an attack on the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta countrysideof Damascus, causing 21 to suffer from breathing difficulties.
Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson charged thatthe Syrian government may still be using chemical weapons in itsattacks
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, saying Russia, Syria's government key ally, bears theultimate responsibility.
""Russia ultimately bears responsibility for the victims inEastern Ghouta and countless other Syrians targeted with chemicalweapons since Russia became involved in Syria,"" said Tillerson.
On Tuesday, France and the U.S., as well as 22 other countries
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,agreed on an initiative to work more closely to target those behindchemical weapons attacks and impose necessary sanctions.
Last November, Russia vetoed a U.S.-written resolution at the UNSecurity Council, which was designed to extend internationalinvestigation into the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
The U.S. accused the Syrian government of using chemical weaponsin an attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhun in April of2017 that allegedly killed 90 people.
The Syrian government, however, categorically denied theaccusations, saying it is rebels in Khan Sheikhun that staged theattacks.
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, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statementthat Washington is trying to derail the objective investigationinto the chemical attacks as it is not interested in identifyingthose who are truly responsible for the attacks.
France and the U.S. aim to complicate the Sochi talks, and thiswill completely halt the dialogue process in Syria since it doesn'tsuit the U.S. interest, the statement noted.
Also on Wednesday, the Syrian Foreign Ministry responded in astatement that the French and U.S. accusations are ""part of themethodical policy against Syria.""
Damascus has always been fully cooperative and provided allnecessary to conduct an unbiased, objective and professionalinvestigation into the use of chemical weapons, the ministrysaid.
The West aims to obstruct the investigation and exercise varioustypes of pressure on investigation teams to politicize it because atransparent and objective investigation would not serve the West'sagenda in Syria
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, it explained. Enditem
WASHINGTON, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- After a week-long hearing thatfeatured statements from 156 of his accusers, former US Olympicgymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, was sentenced on Wednesday to 40 to175 years in prison for molesting young girls under the guise oftreatment.
""I just signed your death warrant,"" Judge Rosemarie Aquilinasaid in the Ingham County, Michigan courtroom: ""You do not deserveto walk outside a prison ever again. You have done nothing tocontrol those urges and anywhere you walk
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, destruction will occurto those most vulnerable.""
Although Nassar only admitted to seven instances of abuse in thecase, Aquilina allowed other victims to speak at his sentencing. Atotal of 156 victims have appeared in court in Lansing, Michigan,or had their statements read by others since last week, includingOlympic gold medalists such as Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney.
The last witness to speak at Nassar's sentencing hearing wasRachael Denhollander, one of the first women to publicly identifyherself as one of Nassar's young victims. She said she was sexuallyabused by the doctor when s
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