Next round of Syria talks in Vienna on Saturday: U.S.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, right, speake during a press conference after a meeting in Vienna, Austria on Oct. 30. (AP)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Vienna for the latest round of negotiations on the conflict in Syria on Saturday, the State Department said.

The talks will be a continuation of a dialogue between 17 nations, along with U.N. and EU representatives, to agree on a plan to end the Syrian civil war.

Neither representatives of the Syria opposition nor Bashar al-Assad’s regime are expected to attend at this stage of the dialogue, officials said.

But, as with the last round of talks on Oct. 30, the U.S. envoy is expected to be joined by his counterparts from Assad’s allies Russia and Iran.

The other leading participants are Saudi Arabia and Turkey, who for their part join Washington in backing rebel movements opposed to Assad’s rule.

The negotiations are designed to agree on a framework for setting up a ceasefire and a transitional government to end the fighting between Assad and the opposition.

This would free the Syrian factions and their foreign backers to concentrate their fire on the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group and organize elections overseen by the U.N..

Washington and its Arab allies want Assad to step aside as part of that process, while Moscow and Tehran insist their ally’s fate is a matter for his own electorate.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:45 - GMT 06:45