Government Welcomes Agreement on Syrian Peace Talks


Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary, has welcomed the agreement reached by the International Syria Support Group. The agreement will mean that  there will be cease-fire, with the exception of against ISIS, to allow peace negotiations to continue.

Philip Hammond said in a statement:

“The International Syria Support Group (ISSG) meeting in Munich committed members to achieving a cessation of hostilities within a week, to delivering humanitarian assistance to named besieged communities by this weekend and to facilitating rapid progress in negotiations aimed at political transition.

If implemented fully and properly by every ISSG member, this will be an important step towards relieving the killing and suffering in Syria. But it will only succeed if there is a major change of behaviour by the Syrian regime and its supporters.

Russia, in particular, claims to be attacking terrorist groups and yet consistently bombs non-extremist groups including civilians. If this agreement is to work, this bombing will have to stop: no cessation of hostilities will last if moderate opposition groups continue to be targeted”.

John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, said:

“A ceasefire has a great many legal prerogatives and requirements. A cessation of hostilities does not – is not anticipated to, but in many ways, they have a similar effect. A ceasefire in the minds of many of the participants in this particular moment connotes something far more permanent and far more reflective of sort of an end of conflict, if you will. And it is distinctly not that. This is a pause that is dependent on the process going forward, and therefore cessation of hostilities is a much more appropriate, apt term. But the effect of ending hostile actions, the effect of ending offensive actions and permitting only defensive actions that are a matter of self-defense is the same in that regard.

I might comment also – and I think this is very important for everybody to understand – during this week, the Assad regime and the opposition need to make their decision. And both are engaged – going to be engaged in consultations. The International Syria Support Group took a different step this time from what has happened previously. In Vienna on two occasions and in New York we called for a ceasefire, we encouraged people. Today we specifically decided on a process, on a timeframe, and we all agreed to do everything that we can to meet that”.