The United Nations and Arab League envoy on Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, has welcomed the agreement between Russia and the United States to find a political solution to the Syrian crisis through an internationally supported intra-Syrian dialogue.

“This is the first hopeful news concerning that unhappy country in a very long time. The statements made in Moscow constitute a very significant first step forward. It is nevertheless only a first step,” said Mr. Brahimi. It has been widely reported that Mr. Brahimi was prepared for a premature termination of his mission, frustrated by the spiralling violence that seemed immune to any diplomatic cure.

The Moscow-Washington accord also got thumbs up from the European Union (EU), which said that was “very satisfied” with the outcome of talks in the Russian capital.

“The EU is very satisfied.... The EU has repeated on many occasions that the solution of the conflict lies in a comprehensive political settlement,” said Michael Mann, spokesman for EU foreign policy Chief Catherine Ashton.

‘Assad must go’

But the Syrian opposition slammed the joint initiative, signalling it would continue to seek a military solution to the crisis so long as President Bashar al-Assad was at the helm. “Unfortunately I don’t think there is a political solution left for Syria. I think that is clear by now. We will not sit with the regime for dialogue. And frankly, I don’t think Assad’s decisions are really in Russia’s hands. Right now he is only looking toward Iran,” said Colonel Qassim Saadeddine, a spokesman for the opposition Supreme Military Council.

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