US and Russia making progress in Syria ceasefire deal: German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier

September 9, 2016 6:47 pm

German Foreign Minister gives a press conference in Berlin, September 8, 2016. (AFP)

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier says the United States and Russia are making progress in negotiations on a temporary ceasefire deal on the conflict in .
US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov have been negotiating in Geneva on finding a way to stop the fighting in Syria.
Steinmeier said in Berlin on Friday that both sides were looking at a “real ceasefire document” for a halt in fighting for “between seven and ten days.”
The German foreign minister also stated that differences between the positions of Washington and Moscow on Syria have been reduced to two or three issues, the national agency DPA reported. The differences include which opposition groups can be characterized as moderate and which should be deemed extremist.
“There is no shortage of ambition. But there are some differences that have unfortunately not been bridged,” Steinmeier said.
On Thursday, the Kremlin said the two sides had not yet finalized work on a mutually-acceptable document on resolving the crisis in Syria.
The two countries are still divided over the future of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Washington insists that Assad must step down before any peace process can yield results, but Russia opposes the idea, arguing that the Syrian president is defending his country against terrorists.
Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura estimates that over 400,000 people have been killed in the conflict.
In 2014, the UN said it would no more update its official death toll for Syria because it could not verify the figures that it received from various sources.
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