US Secretary of State John Kerry has held talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov ahead of next week’s peace negotiations on Syria.
paulrbrennan) <a href="https://twitter.com/paulrbrennan/status/689758078347153408">January 20, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"tw-align-center lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Kerry, Lavrov discussed Syria <a href="https://t.co/bWCX0f0jc8">https://t.co/bWCX0f0jc8</a> <a href="https://t.co/4eSm1JGCHW">pic.twitter.com/4eSm1JGCHW</a></p>— Worldbulletin (worldbulletin) January 20, 2016
There are serious issues to be resolved before the talks convene not least which rebel representatives are invited to attend.
Russia and Iran, which back Syrian President Basher al-Assad and Saudi Arabia, other Arab states, the US and Europe have conflicting ideas on which opposition representatives are acceptable.
Sergei Lavrov attempted to remain upbeat:“Hopefully the talks will start in the very near future. We agreed that once the political process has started we will be able to talk about a ceasefire.”
DAILYSABAH (@DailySabah) January 20, 2016
A Syrian opposition council has already threatened to pull out if Russia gets its wish to broaden the opposition negotiating team.
Speaking from Riyadh, Riad Hijab, the head of the Syrian opposition negotiating team accused Russia of hindering the talks: “There must be a clear environment. There must be a clear agenda for negotiations to work towards a political transition and not to just go and chat and waste time while Syrian people die under shelling and from hunger. This is unacceptable. Russia is impeding the negotiations, so there are no negotiations.”
As the political process on Syria builds the defence ministers of seven countries engaged in the fight against ISIL met in Paris to review strategy in the light of repeated terrorist attacks across the globe.