SYRIA TALK: World’s Senior Diplomats Gather In Vienna

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In Vienna, the Austrian capital, Senior diplomats from the West and the Middle East will meet in an effort to salvage efforts to halt Syria’s civil war.

John Kerry, United States secretary of state and Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, will chair the meeting today in Vienna.

Al Jazeera reports that at the gathering, the 17-nation International Syria Support Group (ISSG) will renew its call for a national cessation of hostilities and immediate humanitarian access to besieged communities.

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But the third plank of the plan, a call for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and the rebels to agree on a “framework for political transition”, which may cause headaches.

United States officials travelling with Kerry say the US still insists that Assad should go, with an August 1 deadline for settling on the framework under which he does so.

But Assad, buoyed by military support from Russia and Iran, has shown no sign he is prepared to leave and his forces are still battling for territory.

“There’s a sentiment here in Vienna that it may take some time to bridge the gap between the two key players,” said Al Jazeera’s Hashem Ahelbarra, reporting from Vienna.

“We’ve been talking to members of the Syrian opposition; they say they have lost trust. If they don’t get clarity about Assad, they will not sign anything”.

 

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