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NZ welcomes ceasefire deal in Syria

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 11/09/2016

© AFP New Zealand is welcoming the ceasefire in Syria and acknowledging the work US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov did to achieve it.

"The agreement is a breakthrough but the coming days will be crucial as we wait to see if the ceasefire holds," says Foreign Minister Murray McCully.

The US and Russia reached the deal early on Saturday to try to restore peace in Syria, but air strikes hours later on a busy market place that killed and injured dozens added to rebels' doubts that any ceasefire could hold, Reuters reports.

Mr McCully says a halt to the fighting is an important first step.

"We urge all parties to return to negotiations on a permanent end to the war and a political transition without delay," he said.

"After six years of fighting it is time to bring an end to the conflict in Syria and we hope this ceasefire can provide parties with the space to do this," Mr McCully says.

New Zealand wanted to acknowledge the personal commitment Mr Kerry and Mr Lavrov had shown in brokering the agreement, Mr McCully said.

The agreement, by the powers that back opposing sides in the five-year-old war, promises a nationwide truce from sunset on Monday, and improves access for humanitarian aid and joint military targeting of hardline Islamist groups.

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