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US Hopeful Syria Talks Will Be Held Next Week


US Secretary of State John Kerry, right, speaks at a forum on the outskirts of Paris as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon looks on, Dec. 8, 2015.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said he is hopeful talks will be held next week on ending the war in Syria.

Speaking after a meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in Paris, Kerry said the talks, scheduled for December 18 in New York, will depend on events in the coming week, including a Saudi-led conference of the Syrian opposition.

Saudi Arabia has taken the lead at bringing together Syrian groups opposed to both President Bashar al-Assad and Islamic State militants.

Last month, at Syria talks in Vienna, representatives of world powers, including the United States, Russia, Iran and the United Nations, laid out a broad plan for a political transition.

It would include bringing Syrian government and opposition groups into U.N.-mediated talks by January 1.

The world powers also voiced support for establishing a credible, inclusive government in Syria within six months, and free and fair elections within 18 months.

The plan also would include a process aimed at leading to an agreement on which elements of the Syrian opposition are terrorists.

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