The U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution Friday that lays out a plan to bring peace to Syria.
But the resolution does not mention what is still an issue: the role Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would play in that process.
As talks progress, the council faces the task of satisfying Assad supporters Russia and Iran along with countries which support opposition forces, including the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
The resolution asks that U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon bring together members of the Syrian government and opposition forces “to engage in formal negotiations on a political transition process on an urgent basis, with a target of early January 2016 for the initiation of talks.” However, members of the Syrian opposition have said that this deadline is too soon.
It also calls for a ceasefire to begin as soon as those representatives begin “initial steps towards a political transition.”
Its adoption follows a meeting of diplomats at the International Syria Support Group in New York City Friday. The group also met in Saudi Arabia last month.
The meetings come amid a “severe threat posed by international terrorism,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said, in particular by the Islamic State group, which has seized land in Iraq and Syria.
Diplomats said early Friday that the issue of how to create a transitional government in Syria, and the question of how Assad would be involved, would be a difficulty in the process. President Barack Obama had previously asserted in November that Assad must leave office before peace could be achieved, but that position shifted recently, with Secretary of State John Kerry saying the U.S. was “not seeking a so-called ‘regime change’ as it is known in Syria.” Meanwhile, Russia, which has veto power in the council, continues to provide military support to Assad.