U.N. council endorses Syria peace plan in a rare show of unity, but resolution does not touch on the question of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's fate. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: The United Nations Security Council on Friday (December 18) unanimously agreed a resolution endorsing an international roadmap for a Syria peace process, a rare show of unity among major powers on a conflict that has claimed more than a quarter million lives. The resolution came after Russia and the United States clinched a deal on a text. The two powers have had very different views on what should happen in Syria, where Islamic State militants control considerable territory that Western governments suspect has been a launch-pad for attacks on Western nations and Russia. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry made clear that there were still differences on the future of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a close ally of Russia and Iran who Western countries want ousted. The resolution does not touch on the question of Assad's fate. The text called for the U.N. to present the council with options for monitoring a ceasefire within one month of adoption of the resolution. It also backed a timeline previously agreed in Vienna for talks between the government on a unity government and opposition, and eventual elections. The talks between Syria's government and opposition should begin in early January, the resolution said. It also endorsed the continued battle to defeat Islamic State militants who have seized large swaths of both Syria and neighboring Iraq. Agreement on a resolution came on the sidelines of a meeting of the so-called International Syria Support Group at New York's Palace Hotel. Diplomats said the main problem in the negotiations on the resolution involved Russian and Iranian concerns about how to refer to a bloc of opposition groups that would join U.N.-led peace talks with the Syrian government set to begin in January.