Kerry: provisional agreement on Syria ceasefire reached

Kerry: provisional agreement on Syria ceasefire reached
An agreement has been reached between leading diplomats from the US and Russia over a Syria ceasefire, Secretary State John Kerry said in Jordan's capital.
3 min read
21 February, 2016
File photo: John Kerry. Peace talks almost collapsed this month following escalation in Aleppo [Getty]

US Secretary of State John Kerry said that the first steps towards a ceasefire in Syria have been agreed with Russian diplomats.

Kerry said he consulted his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov by telephone and that an outline of the agreement will be revealed in the next few days.

"We have reached a provisional agreement, in principle, on the terms of the cessation of hostilities that could begin in the coming days," Kerry told a news conference in Amman with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh.

Kerry was visiting Jordan for talks with Judeh and King Abdullah about the situation in the region.

The foreign secretary said Russia and the US now must reach out to the parties in the conflict.

"There is a stark choice for everybody here," Kerry said.

He declined to go into the details of the agreement because all parties need to be fully consulted.

Kerry said he hoped President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin would talk soon and that after that, implementation could begin.

Speaking in Amman, Kerry said the international community was "closer to a ceasefire today than we have been."

The Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed Lavrov and Kerry spoke on the phone Sunday for a second day in a row.

They discussed "the modality and conditions" for a cease-fire in Syria that would exclude groups that the UN Security Council considers terrorist organisations.

Russia has to talk with Iran and the Syrian government and the US has to talk with the opposition and members of the International Syria Support Group, Kerry added.

"What we are trying to achieve is a process with precision and commitment, and if we get that, that's the best opportunity for the people of Syria to see the violence reduced."

"Will every single party agree automatically, not necessarily," he said.

"The opposition is tough. The opposition is not about to stop. And the opposition has made clear their determination to continue to fight back," he said.

He said enforcement issues still need to be resolved in addition to how any breeches will be addressed.

"These are details that have to be determined if it going to be effective," Kerry said.

Syrian President Bashar Assad had said on Saturday he was ready for a ceasefire to end a five-year civil war, on condition "terrorists" did not use a lull in fighting to their advantage.

He also demanded that countries backing insurgents cut ties with them.

The Syrian opposition had earlier said it had agreed to the "possibility" of a temporary truce.

But this would depend on guarantees by Damascus' allies - including Russia - that sieges would be lifted and aid deliveries allowed countrywide.