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Lavrov, Kerry discuss preparations for ceasefire in Syria

February 24, 19:33 UTC+3
This was done in line with the instructions of Putin and Obama, who on February 22 approved the joint statement of Russia and the US on the cessation of hostilities in Syria
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John Kerry (left) and Sergey Lavrov

John Kerry (left) and Sergey Lavrov

© Mikhail Japaridze/TASS

MOSCOW, February 24. /TASS/. Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry discussed preparations for the cessation of hostilities in Syria in their phone talk on Wednesday, an official at the Foreign Ministry said.

"In line with the instructions of Presidents Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama, who on February 22 approved the joint statement of Russia and the Untied States on the cessation of hostilities in Syria, excluding the fight with terrorist groups, the foreign ministers continued discussing the modalities of this process which requires substantial coordination of efforts between our countries, in particular between defense agencies," he said.

Lavrov and Kerry considered "the soonest resumption of the intra-Syrian talks seeking a political solution to the conflict and also the collaboration within the format of the International Syria Support Group and the UN Security Council."

"Besides, [the top diplomats] exchanged views on other issues on bilateral agenda," the official said.

On Tuesday, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that Washington and its foreign allies and partners were intensely discussing alternative options if ceasefire in Syria was not implemented and political process in the country was not launched.

"There is a significant discussion taking place now about a Plan B in the event that we do not succeed at the (negotiating) table," Kerry said refusing to specify details of a plan B.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin said that the priority task is to implement the agreements on a ceasefire in Syria but not to prepare any backup plans.

"We are currently focusing on the ‘plan A’ and think that our priority is to discuss and work to implement the plan, the initiative formulated recently by the presidents of the two countries," Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov said.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry advised to the US not to surrender but to throw full support behind practical implementation of the deal.

"Today there are lots of people who want to prevent the normal development of cooperation between Russia and the United States. There are even those who are trying to undermine the opportunities to promote the Russian-US agreements and boost our cooperation on the most pressing issues of our time," Minister Sergey Lavrov said.

"Literally on the day when Russia and the United States approved the joint initiative on the ceasefire in Syria, voices could be heard from the capitals of the US allies and from Washington which questioned the viability of this agreement," Lavrov said. "We want to say frankly that these voices are a call for war rather than for peace."

Damascus said it was surprised by U.S. backup plans. According to Syria’s presidential adviser Bouthaina Shaaban, any efforts should be geared to stopping the bloodshed, to improving people’s wellbeing but not to pressuring.

Russia-US deal on Syria

On Monday night Russia and the United States released a joint statement saying that the ceasefire will take effect in Syria at 00:00 Damascus Time on February 27.

"The cessation of hostilities commence at 00:00 (Damascus time) on February 27, 2016," the joint statement said.

The statement points out that the cessation of hostilities is to be applied to all parties to the Syrian conflict but for Daesh (the Arabic acronym for Islamic State) and Jabhat al-Nusra (both are banned in Russia) "or other terrorist organizations designated by the UN Security Council."

Russia’s aviation grouping has been delivering air strikes against the Islamic State terrorist organization in Syria since September 30 at the request of Syria’s President Bashar Assad.

Since 2014, the US-led coalition has also been delivering air strikes against militants in Syria and Iraq.

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