Delegates at the multi-national talks on Syria taking place in Vienna say a broad timeline and plan for political transition towards elections in the war-torn country have been agreed.
The process is aimed at ending violence and replacing it with a political process to establish credible, inclusive and non-sectarian governance.
Participants agreed that elections should be held within 18 months.
“ We have reiterated that the future of Syria will be decided by Syrian people alone,” said Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov. “That also applies to the destiny of Bashar al-Assad and any other politician in that country.”
And it’s the future status of President Assad that could prove to be a stumbling block, along with the determination of which opposition groups are regarded as terrorists.
“But the situation is such that he has become the magnet for the foreign fighters,” US Secretary of State John Kerry said. “People are coming from all over the world attracted to Daesh or al-Nusra or whatever, but mostly Daesh, because of the fight against Assad. And that fight will continue. And the best way to solve this problem is for Bashar al-Assad to recognise that he could save his country by being part of this transition and allow all of the countries in the region to to defeat Daesh. That is the game plan.”
The delegates pledged to take all possible steps to ensure that they and those they support adhere to a ceasefire in Syria where an estmitated 250,000 people have died.
Our correspondent at the talks said they have inevitably been overshadowed by the events in Paris, but that participants emphasised that what happened in France only made it more pressing that they fight terrorism together and decisively.