Nations seek to end Syrian civil war, decide Assad’s ‘transition’ | world | Hindustan Times
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Nations seek to end Syrian civil war, decide Assad’s ‘transition’

The Syrian government’s biggest international backers and opponents plunged into negotiations on Friday over a long-sought compromise to help end a four-and-a-half year civil war and potentially ease President Bashar al-Assad out of power.

world Updated: Oct 31, 2015 00:51 IST
Syria war
Leaders of 18 nations, including US, Iran and Russia, along with representatives from the European Union and United Nations discuss Syria in Vienna, Austria, on Friday.(AFP Photo)

The Syrian government’s biggest international backers and opponents plunged into negotiations on Friday over a long-sought compromise to help end a four-and-a-half year civil war and potentially ease President Bashar al-Assad out of power.

US secretary of state John Kerry said he was hopeful of finding a path forward.

In Austria’s capital, Kerry was negotiating with foreign ministers and senior representatives of 18 other countries. They included Iran for the first time, making it the broadest gathering of nations yet to discuss Syria’s future.

Another key supporter of Assad, Russia, was present, along with many of the most influential Arab and European allies of the United States.

Several participants argued that the talks themselves were a sign of progress. But with no end to the war in sight, there was pressure on all sides to begin chipping away at a “political transition” plan that might convince Assad’s government and the vast array of armed rebel groups to stop fighting and allow world powers to focus on their shared commitment to defeat the Islamic State.

“I am hopeful that we can find a way forward,” Kerry told reporters, before adding: “It is very difficult.”

Assad’s fate was at the center of discussions. The US, Saudi Arabia and others have tempered their earlier calls for Assad’s immediate ouster and now say he can remain in office for months as part of a transition if he agrees to resign at the end of the process.

Russia and Iran are both providing Assad military assistance and say Syria’s leadership shouldn’t be dictated by outside forces.