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In respect of many problems in the world at the moment, all roads seem to lead to Damascus.

Meeting in Vienna the day after the Paris attacks, Russia, the United States and powers from Europe and the Middle East agreed on a two-year timeline leading to Syrian national elections.

The talks on Syria appeared to narrow the gap that divides Russia, which like Iran supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and the West, which wants Assad removed. There is also the underlying dispute between Shia and Sunnis. It is an incredibly complex situation but the West simply cannot afford to see a continuation of the refugee crisis and growth/spread of terrorism in the region and beyond.

Russia, the United States and their allies in Europe and the Middle East all back U.N.-mediated talks between the Syrian opposition and government and favour a unity government in Syria. Let’s hope that a mediated settlement can be achieved so that this period of chaos in the Middle East which arguably began on 9/11/2001 can end.