Kerry Visiting London For More Syria Crisis Talks
RFE/RL October 16, 2016
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is traveling to London on October 16 to discuss the civil war in Syria with Washington's European allies.
Kerry is to brief his counterparts from Britain, France, and Germany following talks in Switzerland with countries who back opposing sides in the 5-year-old conflict.
On October 15 in Lausanne, Switzerland, Kerry met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and the top diplomats of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, and Turkey.
The talks, which followed the collapse of a U.S.-Russia-brokered cease-fire deal last month, ended with no agreement on any concrete steps to halt the violence.
Describing the meeting as a candid "brainstorming" session, Kerry said new ideas were discussed for reviving the truce.
He said that despite tensions between the parties, they had agreed on the urgency of continuing to work together to restore the truce.
Kerry told reporters that high-level contacts would continue on October 17 to discuss future steps.
The parties "might be able to shape some different approaches," the U.S. top diplomat added.
Lavrov said he had pressed for a "political process" to end the conflict to begin "as soon as possible."
"We agreed that we must prolong our contacts over the coming days while taking into account certain accommodations that can help promote peace in Syria," he also said.
On October 16, the Russian Foreign Ministry reiterated that in order for the U.S.-Russian cease-fire agreement to succeed, Syria's moderate opposition must separate from Jabhat Fatah al Sham -- previously known as the Al-Nusra Front -- and other "terrorist groups" affiliated with it.
Meanwhile, the ministry added, "it should be understood that operations against terrorists of Islamic State and the Al-Nusra Front will be continued."
Syrian forces, backed by Russia, have been bombing rebel-held areas in eastern Aleppo in an offensive to capture the country's largest city.
The United Nations has warned that eastern Aleppo, where an estimated 275,000 people are besieged, could face "total destruction" within two months.
Western powers have accused Russia and Syria of committing atrocities by bombing hospitals, killing civilians, and preventing medical evacuations.
Last week, Russia vetoed a UN Security Council resolution drafted by France calling for an end to the bombing in the city.
With reporting by AFP, AP, dpa, and Reuters
Copyright (c) 2016. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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