The UN security council has unanimously agreed a resolution endorsing an international roadmap for a peace process in Syria, a rare show of unity among major powers on a conflict that has claimed more than 250,000 lives, The Guardian reported.
The council adopted the text at a meeting in New York on Friday, which sets out a timetable for talks between the Syrian government and opposition, with a start date of early January.
The statement backs a nationwide ceasefire in Syria to come into effect "as soon as the representatives of the Syrian government and the opposition have begun initial steps towards a political transition under UN auspices".
According to the Associated Press (AP), Russia's deputy foreign minister confirmed the reports, saying that the plan was to adopt the resolution on Friday. "There is an agreement," Gennady Gatilov told reporters.
In addition, the US and French ambassadors both expressed optimism, AP reported.
Speaking before the news broke, Barack Obama said that the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, must leave - having lost all legitimacy.
"I think that Assad is going to have to leave, in order for the country to stop the bloodletting and for all the parties involved to be able to move forward in a non-sectarian way," Obama said at his end-of-year press conference at the White House. "He has lost legitimacy in the eyes of a large majority of the country."