Previous efforts at a negotiated settlement in Syria stalled over US (and by extension pro-US rebel) demands that President Assad unconditionally resign before the talks begin. President Obama is suggesting that the policy may be changing however.
Russia’s been on board for quite some time with talks, and has been more than willing to push the Assad government into negotiation. Getting the rebels on board is a more complicated matter, especially since even if the US does start pushing them, the rebel leadership is so disjointed that it isn’t clear how to get them all on board for the talks. With al-Qaeda-backed factions also in the mix, it is entirely possible that a “deal” between the pro-US rebels and the Assad government wouldn’t end the war at any rate.
The apparent shift also has Obama taking heat for not attacking Syria outright, with Congressmen citing the “red line” of chemical weapons use despite a notable lack of proof. President Obama says that the attack was “perceived” but that this wasn’t enough to warrant military action.