Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen,
I have just had a productive meeting with their Excellencies Mr. Mustafa Akıncı, Turkish Cypriot leader, and Mr. Nicos Anastasiades, Greek Cypriot leader.
We discussed the state of play in the ongoing negotiations to reach a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus.
I commended both leaders for their remarkable efforts to date, and for the progress achieved.
I very much welcome their joint commitment to intensify efforts even further, in line with their stated desire to achieve a comprehensive settlement in 2016.
I encouraged both leaders to continue to engage in the process with determination, courage and creativity.
They informed me that they intend to further intensify their negotiations upon their return to Cyprus. I urged them to make the most of this opportunity, in order to resolve their outstanding issues, without delay, in earnest.
The leaders asked me to step up my personal engagement in the process. I stand ready to support them in whatever they may require, including on the international dimensions of the issue.
The period ahead will be crucial for Cyprus. Time is of the essence. The United Nations and I will do our utmost to promote a successful outcome.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me also say a word about the situation in Syria.
I am appalled by the military escalation in the city of Aleppo, which is facing the most sustained and intense bombardment since the start of the Syrian conflict.
The use of bunker busting bombs brings the violence to new depths of barbarity.
Let us remember: the fighting has forced hospitals and schools to operate in basements. These bombs are not busting bunkers; they are demolishing ordinary people looking for any last refuge of safety. International law is clear: The systematic use of indiscriminate weapons in densely populated areas is a war crime.
The Security Council is discussing the situation at this very moment. What excuse is there for anything less than determined action to stop the mayhem? How much longer will all those with influence allow such cruelty to continue? I urge all involved to work harder for an end to the nightmare.