US Secretary of State John Kerry meeting in Geneva with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov to discuss ceasefire in Syria

September 9, 2016 10:00 am

US Secretary of State reacts as he steps from his plane upon his arrival in Geneva, Switzerland to meet with Russian Foreign Minister to discuss on September 9, 2016. (AFP photo)

US Secretary of State John Kerry is in Geneva for high-level talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov to try to arrange a ceasefire in Syria.
The State Department said the meeting on Friday would focus on “reducing violence, expanding humanitarian assistance for the Syrian people and moving towards a political solution needed to end the civil war.”
Kerry and Lavrov have met several times over the past two weeks in Geneva and during the G20 summit in China, but failed to close the gaps on “technical issues.”
The US government said earlier this week that the meeting between the two diplomats would not happen unless they had resolved outstanding issues regarding the ceasefire.
Before Kerry’s departure on Thursday afternoon, Lavrov reportedly flew to Geneva for a meeting with UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura, who has urged Washington and Moscow to reach an agreement that would allow safe delivery of humanitarian aid to Syrian towns.

John Kerry (L) and Sergei Lavrov met on August 26, 2016 in Geneva for a push towards resuming peace talks for Syria. (AFP photo)

The latest talks come days after Defense Secretary Ashton Carter accused of spreading global instability and questioned whether Moscow genuinely wanted a ceasefire in Syria.
In a speech at Oxford University in England on Wednesday, Carter downplayed hopes of reaching an agreement with Russia regarding peace in Syria.
“Unfortunately so far, Russia, with its support for the Assad regime, has made the situation in Syria more dangerous, more prolonged and more violent. That has contributed to what President Obama this weekend called the ‘gaps of trust’ that exist between our two countries,” Carter said.
The US and Russia have backed opposite sides in Syria’s conflict. Moscow supports the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whom Washington insists must go as part of a political transition.
Russia has repeatedly said that the foreign-backed militants use ceasefire deals to regroup and launch more attacks. Since late September 2015, Moscow has been assisting the Syrian government to strike terrorists across the country. The US says the air campaign has sometimes targeted the US-backed militants operating in the country.
Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The UN special envoy estimates that over 400,000 people have been killed in the conflict.
The Takfiri militants have suffered major setbacks over the past few months as the Syrian army has moved to liberate many key areas.
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