Syria talks result in ‘concrete calendar’ leading to elections

Syria peace talks participants agreed that Syria would see a transitional govt in six months and elections in 18 months

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World diplomats gathered in Vienna had agreed on a fixed calendar for Syria that would see a transition government in six months and elections in 18 months.

The 17 countries, European Union, United States and Arab League meeting in Vienna agreed agreed on Saturday to accelerate efforts to end the conflict in Syria by launching negotiations between the government and opposition by January and holding elections within 18 months, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said.

Kerry told a news conference after talks in Vienna that the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council also agreed to pass a resolution in favor of a ceasefire in Syria.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier also said “we have agreed that this transition process must be over in 18 months, and will include the creation of a Syrian transition government in six months.”

However the tricky subject of the fate of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad remained undecided.

“No one is lying to themselves about the difficulties we are facing, but the determination to find a solution has progressed in 14 days,” since the first round of talks in Vienna, said Steinmeier.

“It still appears Utopian but we have all the powers around the table,” he added.

He said the meeting had taken place in the shadow of the deadly attacks in Paris Friday night, which had “increased the determination to move forward.”

Meanwhile, Kerry said ceasefire does not apply to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group, the al-Qaeda-affiliate Al-Nusra Front or other terrorist groups.

Kerry said permanent members of the U.N. Security Council agreed to pass a resolution in favor of a Syria ceasefire.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also said most but not all parties to the Syria peace talks were in favor of an immediate ceasefire.

An official statement said the diplomats will meet again in “approximately one month” to review progress towards a ceasefire and the start of a political process.

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