A new round of diplomatic talks has failed once again to break a tense deadlock on how to end fighting in Syria, as a nine-nation meeting in the Swiss city of Lausanne did not agree on any concrete action to stop the violence.
With clashes still raging in Aleppo, Saturday’s talks, convened by US Secretary of State John Kerry, concluded after more than four hours without any joint statement from the participating countries.
Kerry was seeking a new path to peace after failing to secure a ceasefire in direct talks with Russia amid increasing international outrage over the Russian and Syrian bombardment of Aleppo’s rebel-held east.
Kerry hosted Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and seven foreign ministers from the region, as well as top diplomats from the United Nations, only weeks after the collapse of a US-Russia brokered truce.
After the meeting, Kerry told reporters that the talks were “constructive”, but admitted that the parties had failed to agree on any concrete action.
He also said that the next contact between sides at the talks would be on Monday to discuss future steps.
Lavrov, on the other hand, told Russian news agencies that the countries discussed several “interesting ideas”.
“I think Lavrov and Kerry were trying to put a brave face on what happened here,” Al Jazeera’s diplomatic editor James Bays, reporting from Lausanne, said.
“They came to the table again to sort out the situation in northern Syria, particularly the bombardment of Aleppo, and once again diplomacy failed the people of Aleppo.
“No breakthrough, no concrete developments at all from these talks.”
Before the talks, Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s UN ambassador, said that a key aim of the Lausanne meeting was to get countries that support “moderate” opposition groups to use their influence to work for a new ceasefire.
Kerry and Lavrov were joined in Lausanne by Staffan de Mistura, the UN Syria envoy, along with the top diplomats of Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar – all backers of Syrian opposition forces.
Iran, a key supporter of the Syrian government, also sent its foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, to take part in the talks.
European countries were not represented at the meeting, which was held in a luxury hotel on Lake Geneva.
But French officials confirmed that foreign ministers of like-minded nations planned to meet Kerry in London on Sunday to discuss the Syria crisis.
Al Jazeera’s Bays said ministers from the UK, France and Germany are expected to discuss what happened in Lausanne, but also “talk about some wider issues”.
“The UK and France have been discussing military options. We know that the US under President Obama are reluctant to look at the military option,” our correspondent said.
“We know France has been pushing for a war crimes investigation into Syrian government and Russia’s aerial bombardment – those things will now be discussed in London.”
Several major international efforts have failed to secure a political solution to Syria’s brutal war, which has cost more than 400,000 lives since 2011.
Russia and the US reached a ceasefire agreement last month, before it quickly collapsed amid a Moscow-backed Syrian assault on the rebel-held part of Aleppo.
The offensive has prompted accusations of potential war crimes from western countries.
More than 370 people, including nearly 70 children, have been killed in Syrian government and Russian bombardment of east Aleppo since September 22, according to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Before Saturday’s talks were set to begin, dozens of overnight air strikes struck east Aleppo, the Syrian Observatory said on Friday.
Three hospitals in Aleppo were hit by suspected Russian air strikes on Friday, killing seven people, Al Jazeera has learned.
The latest bombardment has prompted four leading charities to call for a ceasefire in Aleppo.
The NGOs issued on Saturday a joint plea “to establish a ceasefire of at least 72 hours in east Aleppo”, where an estimated 250,000 people are living under bombardment siege.
“This will allow the sick and wounded to be evacuated, and for food and medical aid to enter the besieged area,” said a statement from one of the charities, Save the Children.