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Syria today: A momentum unseen, a moment to be seized

US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) sits with UN Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi (C) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Photo: Reuters

There has been more diplomatic progress on Syria in the last week, than in the previous one hundred weeks.

It's easy to lose sight of this in the frenzy to analyse whether President Obama is weaker and President Putin stronger today; to work out who has won and who has lost at the end of a dizzying week.

So let's be clear. There is now a political momentum on Syria that we haven't seen since the start of the war.

President Assad has broken a long silence, kept by his father too, and declared that his army possesses chemical weapons.

Syria has just applied to join the chemical weapons convention, a treaty it shunned for decades.

Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomes US President Barack Obama to the G20 summit. Credit: Kay Nietfeld/DPA/Press Association Images

America has pulled back from the brink of attacking the country.

Voters in the West have made it clear they do not want to see Syria bombed by their governments.

The sight of America and Russia's top diplomats, John Kerry and Sergei Lavrov, declaring that, in spite of the many issues that divide them, they are united in many common goals, is revealing.

There is the faint but real possibility that an agreement on chemical weapons could be a springboard to talks on peace in Geneva.

A Free Syrian Army fighter stands in a shooting position in Raqqa province. Credit: Reuters

I say faint because the two sides at war in Syria show little sign that they are prepared to cease firing, never mind to talk with their enemies.

Nevertheless, it's a moment pregnant with possibility and fraught with danger.

A moment, amid the carnage and slaughter, to be seized.

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