Ceasefire Crucial for Syria Peace Process

Ceasefire Crucial  for Syria Peace ProcessCeasefire Crucial  for Syria Peace Process

All parties should contribute to the establishment of a truce in Syria within six months as part of a plan agreed in the meeting for settling the four-year conflict, Iran's deputy foreign minister for Arab and African affairs said.

"A timetable was agreed in the meeting for the resolution of Syrian crisis, based on which a roadmap for a political process is to be developed over a six-month period to be implemented within the next 18 months," Hossein Amir-Abdollahian told reporters in the Austrian capital Vienna after the meeting.

A joint statement was released at the end of the international talks on Syria in Vienna on Saturday, which was attended by countries supporting opposing sides in the Syria civil war, including Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.

***Non-Sectarian Governance

The statement said all parties "affirmed their support for a ceasefire … and for a Syrian-led process that will, within a target of six months, establish credible, inclusive and non-sectarian governance, and set a schedule and process for drafting a new constitution. Free and fair elections would be held pursuant to the new constitution within 18 months."

Amir-Abdollahian was reported by Fars News Agency as saying that the participants agreed that the UN envoy to Syria, in consultation with the Syrian government, would prepare a list of the opposition groups allowed to attend the political talks, stressing that the list will not include terrorists.

"The [attendees] welcomed efforts, working with United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura and others, to bring together the broadest possible spectrum of the opposition, chosen by Syrians, who will decide their negotiating representatives and define their negotiating positions, so as to enable the political process to begin," the statement said.

***Sticking Point

A sticking point in the talks was to agree which among a patchwork of armed groups fighting in Syria must count as opposition groups rather than terrorists.

The participants were unanimous in treating two such groups, namely the so-called Islamic State and Al-Nusra Front, as terrorists and, according to the statement, the ceasefire would not apply to the two groups.

The plan negotiated in the talks involves formal talks between the government and opposition, which will be convened under the UN auspices by Jan. 1.

Mansour Haqiqatpour, the deputy chairman of Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, told ICANA on Sunday that for the talks to produce positive results, principles of democracy should be upheld by all the players.

"If a political solution is to be adopted, the rules of democracy should be observed," he said, adding that this involves Syrian President Bashar al-Assad enjoying the right to stand in elections.

Assad's fate has been a major point of disagreement between his opponents and supporters. The United States and its allies want Assad to leave power as part of any diplomatic settlement to the conflict, while Iran and Russia insist that he should have a role in Syria's future.