Participants at the Vienna talks agreed largely on efforts to come to some sort of ceasefire between the Syrian government and secular rebels, leading to a political transition. A lot of details are to be worked out, though some diplomats say that the Friday attacks in Paris could add considerable momentum to the effort.
Officials have suggested that the goal is to come to some sort of deal by year’s end, leading to elections within 18 months. This was largely Russia’s proposal, though other nations are disputing Russia’s call for free elections, demanding to limit participation from President Assad and other top figures in the existing government.
Secretary of State John Kerry’s comments suggest the US is still on board in theory but not so much in practice, as he called the effort to get a deal done by year’s end “pushing it” and suggested urgency wouldn’t make the talks necessarily go faster.
President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin also held some talks on the sidelines at the G20 summit, agreeing on a “Syrian-led” transition, though so far no Syrian factions have been allowed to participate in the talks, and there has been much debate over which factions would eventually be labeled worthy of invitation.