Intensive diplomatic efforts have resumed in what some observers see as a last-ditch effort to bring about a cease-fire in Syria.
In London, British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson called a meeting with the broad-based Syrian opposition group, the High Negotiations Committee, saying there is still a chance the vision of a political transition “can be made to work.”
The 25-page plan HNC leaders presented on Wednesday proposes a six-month negotiating phase between the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the opposition. After that, there would be an 18-month period in which Syria would be governed by a transitional government made up of opposition representatives, members of the current government and civil society.
That vision, however, is unlikely as long as the two main outside players in the conflict, Russia and the United States, refuse to compromise on their support for the two opposing sides. Moscow supports Assad and Washington adamantly wants him out of power.
U.S. diplomats, speaking to VOA News, have expressed frustration with their Russian counterparts whom they have accused of reversing direction on some key points of agreement in recent days.
“Today’s news out of Syria is not encouraging,” U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Wednesday in a speech at Oxford University in England. “The choice is Russia’s to make, and the consequences will be its responsibility.”