Lavrov and Kerry to meet in Zurich over Syria talks, Ukraine

Lavrov and Kerry to meet in Zurich over Syria talks, Ukraine

MOSCOW - Agence France-Presse
Lavrov and Kerry to meet in Zurich over Syria talks, Ukraine

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 18 Foreign Minister of Russia Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry shake hands following a news conference after a United Nations Security Council meeting on Syria at the United Nations in New York on December 18, 2015. 20 nations from around the world gathered to discuss the ongoing conflict. AFP Photo

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will meet in Zurich on next week for talks on Syria and Ukraine.  

During a telephone call, “Lavrov and Kerry agreed to hold a personal meeting on Jan. 20 in Zurich,” the Russian foreign ministry said Jan. 14.

The foreign affairs chiefs in their conversation “continued examining ways to resolve the Syrian crisis and the conflict in Ukraine,” the ministry said.

It said Kerry and Lavrov were talking “on the instructions of the Russian and U.S. presidents” after Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama spoke by telephone on Jan. 13 about the crises in Syria and Ukraine.

The meeting will be held five days before Syria peace talks will convene scheduled for Jan. 25. 

In Washington, Kerry’s spokesman John Kirby confirmed the meeting, and said the U.S. side had raised concerns about Russia’s tactics in the conflict in Syria.

“The secretary again expressed his concern, deep concern, over attacks on civilians by Russian and regime military forces,” he said.

Kerry called on Russia to pressure its Syrian allies into allowing “humanitarian aid to the Syrian people, particularly in besieged and hard-to-reach places.”

In their call, Putin and Obama discussed the effort “to bring about a political transition inside of Syria,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.

The United Nations envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, said Jan. 13 that the permanent Security Council members - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States - had pledged to take “immediate action” to push for deliveries of aid to besieged areas of Syria.

In December 2015, the U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution endorsing a peace process to end the nearly five-year war in Syria, without touching on the contentious issue of the fate of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.