U.N. says revival of Syria truce is possible, working on peace talks

By Tom Miles and Stephanie Nebehay

By Tom Miles and Stephanie Nebehay GENEVA (Reuters) - The United Nations said it was possible that countries backing the Syria peace process would agree on Thursday to salvage a collapsed ceasefire, and that it was still working to restart peace talks within weeks. U.N. Deputy Special Envoy for Syria Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy told reporters in Geneva that the United States and Russia had the backing of other states in the International Syria Support Group (ISSG), which was to meet later on in New York for the second time this week, to reinvigorate their joint truce plan. "Clearly, the resumption of the talks would be greatly helped by revitalising the cessation of hostilities, and I think that is a possibility," he said. "That is the objective of the meeting of the ISSG." Ramzy said he hoped to hear a positive outcome within hours. A relaunch of the U.S.-Russia peace plan would require all sides to swallow their anger over attacks committed since the ceasefire was supposed to take hold on Sept. 12, including a U.S. air strike on Syrian forces and an attack on a U.N. aid convoy. Ramzy's boss, U.N. Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura, had conceded at the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday that a U.N. plan for a new constitution and free and fair elections sounded like "a dream". But with no other prospect of peace and a U.S. presidential election looming, diplomats say failure to revive the plan would doom Syria to months or years more war. "This is where the situation is right now: a grim picture on the ground in terms of humanitarian aid and in terms of the cessation of hostilities, but at the same time a determination by the ISSG, and particularly the co-chairs, to make things work and to jump-start the political process," Ramzy said. De Mistura said on Wednesday he was ready to bring the warring sides together for direct talks for the first time, and Ramzy said preparations would begin immediately, "with a view to holding these talks hopefully within the next few weeks". (Reporting by Tom Miles and Stephanie Nebehay; writing by Tom Miles)