US Secretary of State John Kerry speaks to the media at the Department of State in Washington, DC. on February 18, 2016
US Secretary of State John Kerry speaks to the media at the Department of State in Washington, DC. on February 18, 2016 © Saul Loeb - AFP/File
US Secretary of State John Kerry speaks to the media at the Department of State in Washington, DC. on February 18, 2016
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AFP
Last updated: January 1, 1970

'Provisional agreement' on terms of Syria ceasefire: Kerry

US Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday that a provisional agreement had been reached with Russia on the terms of a ceasefire in Syria.

Kerry told reporters in the Jordanian capital Amman that he had spoken with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov again on Sunday on the terms of a ceasefire agreed by world powers earlier this month.

"We have reached a provisional agreement, in principle, on the terms of the cessation of hostilities that could begin in the coming days," Kerry said.

"It is not yet done and I anticipate that our presidents, President (Barack) Obama and President (Vladimir) Putin, may well speak somewhere in the next days or so in order to try to complete this task," Kerry told a press conference with Jordanian counterpart Nasser Judeh.

Hopes for ceasefire, which had been due to take hold on Friday, had floundered as fresh violence shook Syria last week.

But Kerry was optimistic that it could still be implemented, noting that UN-backed aid deliveries had reached besieged Syrians last week.

"We are in fact making progress even as a I stand here today. There is aid now getting through, the modalities for a cessation of hostilities are now being completed," he said. "We are closer to a ceasefire today than we have been."

Noting that a US-led coalition had carried out more than 10,000 air strikes against the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq, Kerry said: "We are determined that we will win this fight."

"The coalition is planning further actions even as we speak," he said, without providing details.

Kerry highlighted coalition member Jordan's contribution, saying the country would receive $1.6 billion in US assistance "that will enhance border security, create economic growth and create jobs for Jordanian people."

"As part of this assistance Jordan received $450 million in foreign military financing this year, making it the third-largest recipient in the world," Kerry said.

He said a political transition in Syria was crucial in the fight against IS and reiterated US opposition to President Bashar al-Assad staying in power.

"At the end of the day, nothing will do more to make the fight against Daesh effective than to put in place a political transition that finds a government responsive to the desperate needs of the Syrian people," Kerry said, using an Arabic acronym for IS.

"And my friends that is a government that cannot possibly have Assad at its head.”

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