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Germany says obstacles remain for Syria after U.N. backs peace process

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier speaks to reporters following a meeting of Foreign Ministers regarding the situation in Syria in the Manhattan borough of New York, December 18, 2015. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Saturday that there were still difficulties ahead for Syria despite the United Nations Security Council having approved a resolution endorsing an international road map for a Syria peace process.

Speaking at a joint news conference with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Berlin after returning from the U.N. meeting, Steinmeier said: “Neither of us underestimate the difficulties and obstacles that still need to be overcome in defusing the civil war in Syria.”

Steinmeier did not elaborate, but obstacles to ending the nearly five-year civil war, where no side is able to secure a clear military victory, include that major powers are bitterly divided on who may represent the opposition as well as on the future of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The resolution, which Wang said was “very balanced”, gives a U.N. blessing to a plan negotiated in Vienna that calls for a ceasefire, talks between the Syrian government and opposition, and a roughly two-year timeline to create a unity government and hold elections.

The resolution foresees the first talks beginning in January.

Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky