Guardian: Kerry Plan for Syria Leaves No Voice for Syrian People


Syria could be weeks away from big transition, says John Kerry


US secretary of state hopeful that timetable for talks about ceasefire and free elections is ‘gigantic step’ – but Assad’s role in transition could be sticking point

  Middle East editor

The US secretary of state, John Kerry, has given an upbeat assessment of prospects for diplomatic efforts to end the war in Syria and fight Islamic State, saying a ceasefire between Bashar al-Assad and the rebels fighting to overthrow him could now be just weeks away.

Kerry told reporters in Paris that Saturday’s agreement in Vienna for a ceasefire and talks between the Syrian government and opposition would boost the international campaign against Isis, galvanised by the atrocities in the French capital.

“That’s a gigantic step,” Kerry said. “If we can get that done, that opens up the aperture for a whole bunch of things. We’re weeks away conceivably from the possibility of a big transition for Syria, and I don’t think enough people necessarily notice that. But that’s the reality.”

The US is seeking to build on the momentum of the Vienna agreement, in which 19 countries – including bitter rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia – signed a UN statement supporting a 1 January deadline for the start of talks between Assad and the rebels, with the aim of agreeing a ceasefire by 14 May 2016 and holding free elections a year later.

No Syrians were invited to take part in the event so that the international parties could present a unified message.

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