Middle East

Syria plan greeted by optimism and scepticism in media

US Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (L) and Secretary of State John Kerry (C) listen to UN special envoy on Syria Staffan de Mistura at a meeting of the International Syrian Support Group (ISSG) Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Talks aimed at finding ways to end the Syrian war and restart peace moves took place in Munich

The plan to bring about a cessation of hostilities in Syria within a week provokes a range of responses in the world's media, from optimism to scepticism.

In the Middle East media, pan-Arab Al-Arabiya TV quotes observers as saying that the agreement is "loose, and open to interpretation". The TV adds that the "Munich agreement remains mere pledges on paper as US Secretary of State John Kerry admitted."

Syrian TV in its early morning bulletin focuses on military successes against "terrorists" and reports the Russian deputy foreign minister's announcement of an agreement to settle the crisis only near the end of its newscast.

'Step forward'

However, the agreement is widely reported in Iran which is supportive of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad but Iranian media stress that the cessation of hostilities does not include regions under the control of "terrorist groups" such as the so-called Islamic State and al-Nusra Front.

Iranian English-language Press TV also broadcast an interview with Ken Stone, described as a Canadian peace activist, who sees the plan as a "step forward".

Image copyright Channel One
Image caption Russian Channel One TV complemented its coverage of the talks with footage of Syrian government advances

The Saudi, pro-government Al-Riyadh newspaper quotes various "experts" as saying that it was unlikely that any agreed ceasefire would be "implemented on the ground". In contrast, Lebanon's Al-Akhbar newspaper, which backs the Syrian government, runs a front-page headline heralding "a Syrian breakthrough in Munich".

'Fragile agreements'

In Russia, which backs the Syrian government militarily, the Munich talks feature prominently on TV news bulletins. Channel One follows up its report on the talks with a jubilant report on the advances of the Syrian army, creating the overall impression that government forces are gaining momentum on the ground.

Image copyright Sueddeutsche Zeitung
Image caption German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung says: "Syrian conference wants ceasefire within a week"

Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung, publishing in Munich where the talks have been held, is upbeat, reporting hopes of a "realistic implemention in 7 to 10 days".

But the conservative Berlin paper, Die Welt, is more sceptical, headlining its story "Ceasefire all round, unless the Russians don't want it". It says the "partial success" of the Munich security conference has led to "very fragile agreements", concluding that "almost everything depends on the Russians".

French papers, too, express little confidence about the deal. Le Monde talks of a "fragile agreement for a humanitarian truce" and Liberation says the deal was reached with "difficulty amid distrust and caution".

Image copyright Le Figaro
Image caption French paper Le Figaro's headline reads: "Kerry and Lavrov - snatched promises"

Le Figaro says bluntly: "The outcome of the Syrian conflict is still far from over. John Kerry did not hide the issues he is still in disagreement with Russia on, especially the fate of Bashar al-Assad."

"Glimmer of hope"

But in the USA, The New York Times sees the agreement as "a chance to halt the brutality in Syria", saying in an editorial that it sees "a glimmer of hope after the relentless attacks by Russia in support of the Syrian regime".

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

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