World powers struggle to create plan to end civil war
Updated: 2015-12-19 08:11
By Agencies in Washington(China Daily)
Diplomats optimistic despite disagreements over lingering issues
As the United States and world powers gather again in a bid to end Syria's civil war, Russia appears to be calling the shots.
Nations meeting on Friday in New York and the UN were negotiating a Russian plan for a "political transition", based on the Syrian government's consent and with no clear reference to President Bashar Assad's departure.
And as they look for a way to secure and enforce a peace that has proved all too elusive since 2011, Russia's recent military intervention appears to be providing the key leverage. As US President Barack Obama said earlier this month, rebels who join the process could enjoy "pockets of cease-fire" where they no longer face Syrian or Russian bombs. The implication was that those who refuse could still be targeted.
In any event, diplomats from East and West said the chances for ending the five-year conflict between Assad's military and moderate rebel forces are better now than they've been for a long while. All speak of seizing the momentum of several groundbreaking meetings in recent months.
For the first time, the rise of the Islamic State group has the US, Russia and even sworn enemies such as Saudi Arabia and Iran committed to a blueprint for peace negotiations and a set of principles for Syria's future. These were expected to be endorsed by the UN Security Council on Friday, following meetings among the foreign ministers in New York.
The five permanent members of the Security Council were struggling to agree on a draft resolution endorsing an international bid to end Syria's civil war ahead of the ministerial talks.
The US ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, told reporters that the five veto-wielding council members did not yet have an agreed draft to present to the 15-nation body for approval on Friday.
Originally, Western powers hoped the council would rubber-stamp a resolution endorsing a two-year road map for talks between Syria's government and opposition on a unity government expected to begin in January and eventual elections.
The road map, which also calls for a nationwide cease-fire that would not apply to Islamic State, Nusra Front and some other militant groups, was worked out in two rounds of ministerial talks in Vienna.
Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin suggested there were significant disagreements among the five powers.
"I'm not sure it's going to happen because there are some unfortunately deliberate, or not deliberate, attempts to undercut the Vienna documents, and we don't want to see that," he told reporters without elaborating.
AP - Reuters
(China Daily 12/19/2015 page9)