World Powers, Meeting in New York, to Address Syrian War and ISIS

Diplomats from more than a dozen countries were expected to meet Friday morning in New York, with an eye to drawing the Syrian war to a close and to focusing the world’s attention on the threat of the Islamic State. But whether they can put aside their rivalries and fulfill promises they have made in pursuit of a cease-fire and peace talks by January remains unclear.


At issue is whether the world powers that all have large stakes in the war can end the fighting — and with it, help stem the refugee crisis in Europe and the threat posed by the Islamic State.


This is the third meeting of the so-called International Syria Support Group, which also includes the Arab League and the European Union. The group is led by the top envoys of the United States and Russia, and it includes the regional rivals Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, which have vastly different agendas in Syria.


The last two rounds of talks, held in Vienna in October and November, produced a road map for diplomacy: a cease-fire by January; talks between the Syrian government and opposition parties, mediated by the United Nations; and elections in 18 months.


The talks this week aim to produce a United Nations Security Council resolution by the end of the day. That resolution is intended to give the international support group and the road map for peace the Council’s blessing, diplomats say, but it has been held up by crucial differences between Russia and the United States.


There are at least three unresolved issues: which groups in Syria should be defined as terrorists, whether the Council will recognize the bloc of Syrian opposition groups that came together in Saudi Arabia last week, and whether President Bashar al-Assad should be allowed to run for another term.


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