Lavrov, Kerry to hold Syria talks this week

MOSCOW, RUSSIA- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his US counterpart John Kerry will meet Thursday and Friday in Geneva to try to hammer out a deal on cooperation in Syria, Moscow said.
But Kerry's spokesman would not confirm the meeting Wednesday, suggesting that last-minute negotiations were continuing.

The two top diplomats agreed to a "personal meeting" after "working on the remaining details for an agreement" on fighting jihadists and pushing forward the peace process in the war-torn country in a phone call, a Russian statement said earlier in the day.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Mark Toner confirmed that Kerry and Lavrov had spoken by telephone for 45 minutes but would not say whether they had agreed to meet again as soon as Thursday.
"I don't have any travel to announce at this time," he said.
"I can say that the secretary remains committed to continuing efforts to try and resolve the remaining or outstanding issues in order to reach an arrangement on Syria," he added.
That arrangement, he said, would "put in place a durable cease-fire, a cessation of hostilities, provide humanitarian access to all areas and lead to a resumption of talks."
Russia and the United States -- on opposite sides in the five-year conflict in Syria -- have been trying to thrash out a deal in recent weeks to revive a ceasefire on the ground and coordinate strikes against the Islamic State group and other jihadists.
Presidents Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama held talks Monday on the sidelines of the G20 summit in China but failed to bridge their differences.
Russia is flying a bombing campaign in support of strongman leader Bashar al-Assad, while the United States backs rebel groups fighting to oust him from power.
Lavrov also slammed new US sanctions slapped on Russia over the crisis in Ukraine insisting that they hampered joint efforts by the two sides "including those aimed at resolving regional conflicts", the statement said.

Thursday, September 8th 2016

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