Russia, the United States and powers from Europe and the Middle East outlined a plan on Saturday for a political process in Syria leading to elections within two years, but differences remained on key issues such as President Bashar al-Assad’s fate. A day after gunmen and suicide bombers went on a rampage through Paris, killing at least 127 people, foreign ministers and senior officials from more than a dozen countries agreed to work for a ceasefire in Syria’s civil war, but U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said it would not apply to Islamic State. French President Francois Hollande pledged a “merciless response” to the attacks, which he said had been organized by the Islamist militant force. France is part of the U.S.-led coalition carrying out air strikes against the group in Syria and Iraq.
Speaking in French after Saturday’s talks, which began with a moment’s silence for the victims in Paris, Kerry told a joint news conference with his Russian counterpart that the attacks only strengthened his country’s resolve to fight terrorism.
“The impact of the war bleeds into all of our nations,” Kerry said. “It is time for the bleeding in Syria to stop.”
The Paris attacks shifted the focus of negotiations in Vienna from the detail of which organizations would count as opposition groups rather than terrorist ones, and could therefore take part in a political solution in Syria, to defeating Islamic State militarily, diplomats said.