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EU Urges Russia, Iran, Turkey To Press For Pause In Syria Conflict

European Union foreign-policy chief Federica Mogherini speaks at an international conference on the future of Syria and the region in Brussels on April 25.

BRUSSELS -- EU foreign-policy chief Federica Mogherini has called on Russia, Iran, and Turkey to do more to scale down the fighting in Syria.

Mogherini was speaking to reporters on April 25 in Brussels, as international donors gathered for a second day at a conference to drum up aid for the war-wracked country.

She said the three countries shared a "special responsibility" to ensure the conditions for a cease-fire and to pressure Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government to return to the negotiating table.

"We are seeing an escalation in military activities which is exactly the contrary" of what Russia, Iran, and Turkey promised to work toward, she said.

Russia and Iran have given Assad crucial support throughout the seven-year war in Syria, which has killed hundreds of thousands of people and uprooted millions. Turkey supports opponents seeking to oust Assad.

The three countries launched a negotiations process last year in the Kazakh capital, Astana, which is competing with the UN-sponsored peace talks in Geneva.

"We believe that the only sustainable peace for Syria will be linked to a political process under the UN auspices," Mogherini said.

"We need in particular Russia [and] Iran to exercise pressure on Damascus so that it accepts to sit at the table under the UN auspices, she said. "The [Syrian] today more united and ready to sit for negotiating."

On April 24, Mogherini and the UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, appealed for a rapid resumption of the Geneva peace process to end the conflict. The previous eight rounds of Geneva talks have made little progress.

Meanwhile, UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock told reporters on April 25 he expected donors to pledge $4.4 billion in aid for 2018 for Syria and neighboring countries that are sheltering refugees from the war.

He earlier told the AFP news agency that he hoped to see $8 billion pledged at the conference.

Lowcock thanked the EU, Germany, and Britain for their "exceptionally large" offers and noted that some big donors, such as the United States, had not yet been able to confirm their pledges because of domestic budget processes.

Britain announced 450 million pounds ($628 million) for 2018 and another 300 million pounds ($418 million) for next year, while Germany said it would donate more than a billion euros ($1.22 billion).

Lowcock added that he expected pledges to be made for a further $3.3 billion for 2019 and afterward from some of the more than 80 countries, aid groups, and agencies at the conference.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, and dpa