UNITED NATIONS, Dec 16 (Reuters) - The fighting in Syria must cease before political negotiations on a transitional government to restore peace to the war-ravaged country can commence, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Monday.
"We must have a cessation of hostilities before we begin political dialogue on Syria in Geneva," Ban told reporters in New York. "This fighting must stop."
Representatives of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government and the opposition fighting to oust him are scheduled to meet with peace mediator Lakhdar Brahimi in Switzerland on Jan. 22 to discuss ways of ending the more than 2-1/2-year-old civil war. (Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Chris Reese)