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FRANCE - SYRIA

Fabius, Kerry hold Syria talks in Paris

Laurent Fabius John Kerry, Paris, 14 November 2015
Laurent Fabius John Kerry, Paris, 14 November 2015 Reuters/Mandel Ngan/Pool

Meetings over the Syria crisis led by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and with the presence of US Secretary of State John Kerry were held in Paris on Monday.

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Monday’s talks in Paris, with European and Arab foreign ministers, were to carry on a diplomatic process in the Syrian conflict and to prepare for Friday’s meeting in New York with Russia and Iran, the two main backers of Syrian President Bashar al Assad.

Fabius met his counterparts from Britain, Germany, Italy, United States, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Qatar and Turkey.

“We want to move fast on negotiations and fix a framework with a UN Security Council resolution,” a French diplomatic source told the AFP on Monday night.

Following the talks, Jordan was tasked with drawing up a list of terrorist groups that will be excluded from the negotiation process.

Even if the New York talks are not yet confirmed, it could lead to a UN resolution.
“I can’t say that everything has been 100 per cent completed but I think the New York talks will take place,” the spokesman of the US State Department John Kirby said.

The last major talks in Vienna on 14 November saw the opposing powers agree on a roadmap for a ceasefire in Syria, followed by a transitional government in six months and elections in one year.

Last week, an unprecedented meeting in Saudi Arabia saw Syria’s main political and armed opposition groups agreeing to negotiate with President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, although they insisted Bashar step down at the start of any political transition.

Foreign ministers agreed on Monday night to negotiate with the Syrian regime. The “next step is now to appoint a delegation of around 15 opposition figures to meet with the regime,” a French diplomatic source said.

The challenge is to rally the coalition backers of Assad’s regime. Russian and Iranian allies seem to have done little to pressure Assad into negotiations.

“Nevertheless, we are starting to see that Tehran does not want to be seen as the saboteur of the Vienna process,” a diplomatic source added.

Kerry headed to Moscow on Monday night for talks with President Vladimir Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov although Washington and Moscow continue to clash over their uncoordinated military efforts in Syria.

Syrian opposition figures and Assad’s regime are scheduled to meet in Vienna early January.

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