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Lavrov, Kerry discuss Syria peace talks
October 30, 2013, 9:42 am

Lavrov (left) and Kerry (right)  discussed preparations and the evolving humanitarian crisis [AP]

Lavrov (left) and Kerry (right) discussed preparations and the evolving humanitarian crisis [AP]

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke by telephone on Tuesday to discuss preparations for the Geneva-2 peace conference on Syria.

The peace talks will aim get the Syrian government and opposition groups to meet to find a political solution to the crisis.

Lavrov and Kerry discussed preparations and the evolving humanitarian crisis, according to a Russian Foreign Ministry report.

The conversation was held on Kerry’s initiative, the ministry said.

Meanwhile, UN-Arab League Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, who is in Damascus meeting with Syrian officials to build support for the talks, is expected to meet Syrian President Bashar-al Assad on Wednesday.

President Assad has said in principle that his government will attend the conference but it will not negotiate with the country’s disparate armed rebel groups.

Major Syrian opposition groups still remain reluctant to take part in the Geneva-2 peace talks as the future of Assad is a major sticking point.

A Syrian government representative said recently that the conference would start on November 23, although only the United Nations has the final authority to set the date.

The Friends of Syria group has insisted the president has no role in the country’s future, a challenge that upsets plans for the peace conference in Geneva, said the Russian Foreign Ministry last week.

The UN estimates that more 100,000 people have died in the civil war in Syria.

The number of refugees caused by the conflict hit two million in September according to the UN’s refugee agency.

International experts began eliminating Syria’s chemical weapons in early October, in accordance with a US-Russian plan to seize and destroy the arsenal.

The move prevented a possible US military strike in the aftermath of a chemical attack on a Damascus suburb in late August. Syria denied responsibility for the deadly attack.

The plan was approved in September 2013 by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and supported by a UN Security Council resolution.

Source: Agencies