Russia announces Syria talks with US, regional powers
AFP PhotoRussia on Oct. 12 said it would hold Syria talks with the United States and regional powers, including Turkey, this weekend, the first meeting on the conflict since Washington froze bilateral cease-fire negotiations.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry agreed to hold talks aimed at “creating the conditions for the resolution of the Syrian crisis” in Lausanne on Oct. 15, alongside top diplomats from “key countries in the region,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
In an interview on Oct. 12, Lavrov said that talks should include Turkey, Saudi Arabia and possibly Qatar, CNN reported.
“We would like to have a meeting in this narrow format, to have a businesslike discussion, not another General Assembly-like debate,” he was quoted as saying.
A U.S. State Department source confirmed the meeting to AFP: “Can confirm Lausanne. Lausanne will be a meeting with key regional participants as well as Russia.”
The meeting comes as tensions between Moscow and the West have spiked over the conflict after peace efforts unraveled and Russia unleashed an intense bombing campaign to back up a regime assault on the war-ravaged city of Aleppo.
The U.S. pulled the plug on talks with Russia aimed at reviving a flagging cease-fire on Oct. 3, sending ties with Russia spiraling to a new low.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Oct. 12 accused France of deliberately luring Moscow into vetoing a United Nations resolution on Syria and suggested it was doing the bidding of the United States.
Russia last week imposed its veto on a French-backed resolution on the violence in the Syrian city of Aleppo, saying the document failed to take into account Russian proposals.
Western governments said the veto showed Moscow had no interest in halting the violence.
But Putin, who earlier this week called off a planned trip to Paris after his French counterpart Francois Hollande criticized Russia’s actions in Syria, launched a stinging attack on France’s handling of the resolution.
“They put forward the resolution knowing that it would not pass...in order to incite a veto,” Putin told an investment conference in Moscow. “Why? It was aimed at inflaming the situation and fanning hysteria around Russia.”
At least seven people were killed in fresh air strikes and artillery fire on rebel-held areas of Syria’s second city Aleppo on Oct. 12, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, adding that the death toll was expected to rise.
The Britain-based monitor said among the areas hit in the bombardment was a market in the Fardos neighborhood.
The deaths came a day after Russia stepped up its air raids on east Aleppo in support of an army operation to recapture the rebel-held sector of the city.
The Oct. 11 raids killed at least 27 people, among them four children, in several districts, including Fardos, according to the Observatory.
Four people were also killed and 14 wounded in rebel fire on government-held west Aleppo on Oct. 11.