Report: Syrian peace talks set for December

Negotiators from the United States, United Nations and Syria will hold peace talks in December in the latest attempt to end the more than two-year civil war in the country. 

Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly informed French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius that U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi had gotten all sides to agree to a December start date for the talks, according to Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Watan

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Brahimi is expected to officially announce the beginning of the peace talks, to be held in Geneva on Nov. 25, Agence France Presse reported Wednesday. 

"The organisers ... want [peace talks] to be held before the end of the year," Munzer Aqbiq, a senior adviser to the Syrian National Coalition told AFP. 

"Dates have been proposed around mid-December. These not are not official dates. They are proposals which must be discussed," Aqbiq said.

However, the Assad regime's willingness to step down from power is still up for debate, and could ultimately scuttle any hopes for a diplomatic solution to the Syrian crisis. 

"I think we have to pursue it, we have to continue that dialogue ... [but] Assad isn't interested in cutting a deal," House Armed Services Committee ranking member Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said Thursday. 

"It's a chaotic situation and it will be for awhile ... we need to be mindful of our limited ability to force [an] outcome," Smith said in a speech in Washington. 

The biggest threat to U.S. national security in the region is that the ongoing war between Syrian President Bashar Assad and anti-government rebels will spill over into countries allied with the United States, like Turkey and Jordan. 

But mere discussions on a tangible start date for peace talks clear a significant hurdle on international efforts to bring anti-government rebels and embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad to the negotiating table. 

Last Thursday, Brahimi told reporters in Geneva that talks between the U.N., Washington and Russia to kickstart Syrian peace talks had stalled. 

One of the main stumbling blocks toward peace talks is possible Iranian involvement in those negotiations. 

Moscow has repeatedly called for Tehran to be included in the talks, arguing Iran's exclusion would eliminate a key regional player in the Mideast from having a say in the process. 

That said, the Obama administration has repeatedly slammed the idea of Iranian participation. 

“I don’t think anybody with a straight face could argue that Iran has had a positive impact on developments in Syria,” White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters in July, when the idea of Iran's involvement was first raised by former U.N. special envoy Kofi Annan. 

But Thursday's announcement indicates Moscow and the United States have resolved their issues and agreed to press forward with peace talks. 

The proposed peace talks are a piece of a larger Syrian disarmament of its chemical weapons stockpiles, brokered by the U.S. and Russia earlier this year. 

On Thursday, international inspection teams announced they had completed dismantlement on one of the two final chemical weapons facilities inside Syria. 

Inspectors have inspected 22 of the 23 sites declared in Syria, and 39 of the 41 facilitates located at those sites.  

The teams did not visit the final remaining site due to safety and security concerns. 

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