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Lavrov, Kerry to meet in Zurich for the first time this year

January 20, 5:15 UTC+3 MOSCOW
The agreement on the meeting was reached following telephone conversation between Russian and U.S. Presidents Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama
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© Mandel Ngan/Pool Image via AP

MOSCOW, January 20. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will hold this year’s first negotiations in Zurich on Wednesday. The traditional agenda, which includes Syria, Ukraine and Iran, has been supplemented by the situation on the Korean peninsula.

"Sergey Lavrov and John Kerry will discuss bilateral relations between Russia and the United States, Syria, Ukraine, North Korea and other issues," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov told TASS. "There are many issues of mutual interest to both Washington and Moscow."

The agreement on the meeting was reached following telephone conversation between Russian and U.S. Presidents Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama.

In the period from mid-December to January, the two top diplomats talked over the phone 4 times. The last personal meeting took place on December 18, 2015, during the session of the Syria Support Group in New York. On the same day the UN Security Council passed Resolution 2254 enshrining the results of the consultations in the "Vienna format". The first meetings of the Syria Support Group were held on October 30 and November 14, 2015.

The main attention is now drawn to Syria in the light of the inter-Syrian consultations due to be held in Geneva on January 25.

The Geneva round is envisaged by Resolution 2254 of the UN Security Council. According to it, the transitional government should be formed in Syria and work on the new Constitution should start within six months after the beginning of the talks. According to the new Constitution, "free and fair elections" should be held no later than within 18 months. The document also stipulates that the ceasefire should come into effect immediately after the Syrian government and opposition begin the implementation of the process of political reforms.

"As far as Syria is concerned, the ministers will discuss all issues of Syrian settlement in accordance with Resolution 2254 (of the UN Security Council)," Bogdanov noted. "These are the issues of launching the inter-Syrian talks, the fight against terrorism, the political process and the humanitarian situation. They will also discuss the lists of terrorist groups."

"And the main thing now is: if we are aiming for January 25 as the beginning of the inter-Syrian negotiations, it is necessary to solve the problems that remain unresolved," he added. "We hope we will meet the deadline, because we need to comply with the resolution, which says that the talks should begin in January.".

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