France calls for quick return to UN Syria talks

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault

RIYADH - France on Tuesday called for a rapid resumption of UN-led Syria peace talks, as rebels and Damascus failed to reach a political breakthrough at talks in Kazakhstan.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, on a visit to Saudi Arabia, said he hoped there would be an agreement at the talks in Astana which were sponsored by Russia, Iran and Turkey.
"On the other hand, what we call for is that the Geneva negotiations resume as quickly as possible in the United Nations framework and under the aegis of the United Nations," Ayrault said at a joint news conference with his Saudi counterpart Adel al-Jubeir.
The Saudi minister also called for a quick resumption of negotiations in Geneva.
The two days of meetings in Astana -- which have left the West sidelined -- were mainly a Kremlin initiative and came as Russia has made itself the main powerbroker in Syria with its game-changing military support for President Bashar al-Assad.
Ayrault said he had hoped for success of the Astana talks "at least on a priority point which is the effective cessation of hostilities."
Moscow, Tehran and Ankara announced they would "establish a trilateral mechanism to observe and ensure full compliance with the ceasefire" in place since late December.
The three powers also backed the participation of the armed rebel groups at a new round of peace talks set to be hosted by the United Nations in Geneva next month.
Saudi Arabia backs some rebels fighting Assad's regime.
Since the start of Syria's war in 2011, there have been several failed diplomatic initiatives.
In March and April last year, indirect talks took place in Geneva between Syrian rebels and the government under UN auspices.