Syrian opposition leaders and the "Friends of Syria" group agree that planned peace talks in Geneva will aim to bring about a democratic transition for Syria in which President Bashar al-Assad plays no part, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said Tuesday.
"We are clear that Syrian President Assad has no role in a peaceful and democratic Syria," he said.
Hague's words followed a Friends of Syria meeting that brought together foreign ministers from 11 core countries including the United States, Britain, France, Turkey and Gulf nations and Syrian opposition leaders.
It was aimed at bolstering the prospects for the peace talks in Geneva, Switzerland. They are expected to take place late next month, although no firm date has been set.
Hague said the London meeting had been "important and productive," held against a backdrop of "the Syrian regime's escalating use of indiscriminate and disproportionate force against the people of Syria."
The proposed Geneva conference between Syrian government officials and opposition leaders, intended to broker an end to the country's civil war, has been delayed several times.
A key issue has been whether Syrian opposition leaders will agree to take part in the Geneva talks if their stated objective is not to remove al-Assad from power. It's still not clear whether they will attend.
Ahmad al-Jarba, president of the Syrian National Coalition, a key opposition group, said Tuesday's talks had been "positive" and "encouraging," and it was the first time that all 11 core Friends of Syria governments had agreed on key points.
The Syrian opposition groups will hold a general assembly in the coming days, where they will discuss their approach to the Geneva conference, he said.
Hague said the Friends of Syria had pledged to support moderate Syrian opposition groups at the talks. "Geneva offers the Syrian people the best hope to improve their lives," he said.
'Road map' to peaceful resolution
The Syrian opposition has set no preconditions for the talks other than that the aims agreed on at a first peace conference in Switzerland last year, known as Geneva I, should stand, Kerry told reporters.
"The opposition is not saying that Assad has to go before this negotiation. That is not what they're saying," he said.
"You can't have mutual consent if you're not talking to anybody. You have to go, engage in the discussion and see. ... The opposition has said that their condition is that the intent of this is that Assad goes, which is what happens if you implement Geneva I."
The position of the United States has not changed on the need for al-Assad to go, Kerry added.
"We believe that he has lost all legitimacy, all capacity to govern the country, and therefore it's hard to imagine any resolution in any other way," he said.
Kerry, who met with opposition leaders before the wider meeting Tuesday, said the agreement that came out of the Geneva I conference should not be discounted.
"The Geneva communique is more than a piece of paper, and it should not be a forgotten level of diplomacy. It is a road map that leads to a new future ... and it rids the country of violent extremist groups," he said.
The nations involved in Tuesday's talks, known as the "London 11," are committed to seeing the political process through and reaching a negotiated settlement, Kerry said.
Asked about reports that Saudi Arabia is frustrated over the U.S. approach to Syria, Kerry said he had had "frank" and "constructive" talks with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal over the past two days.
"I'm convinced that we're on the same page," he said.
International weapons inspectors have in the past month entered Syria to begin verifying and destroying its chemical weapons arsenal.
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said Tuesday that Syria's government had so far "fully cooperated in supporting the work of the advance team" of chemical weapons inspectors.
But some in the Syrian opposition have protested that this has done nothing to stop the killing of Syrian civilians using conventional weapons.