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Syria to dominate talks between Russian, US top diplomats in Washington

May 10, 2017, 1:43 updated at: May 10, 2017, 2:13 UTC+3 WASHINGTON

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will hold talks with US State Secretary Rex Tillerson in Washington

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WASHINGTON, May 10. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will hold talks with US State Secretary Rex Tillerson in Washington on Wednesday, with focus on the Syria crisis, topical international and bilateral issues. Lavrov has arrived in the United States on a three-day working visit.

"The talks with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are scheduled for May 10 in Washington. At the talks, (the top diplomats) will exchange views on topical international issues and pressing issues of bilateral relations," the ministry said.

In the run-up to the third meeting between Tillerson and Lavrov, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon had held consultations in New York.

Later, Ryabkov told TASS that the consultations "have helped in drawing up some issues more thoroughly and better, including the ones Minister Lavrov and State Secretary Tillerson will be considering."

"I proceed from the fact that Syria will top the talks. Therefore, Mr. Shannon and I have done some work to ease somehow the bilateral agenda for the ministers so that they can spare time for Syria and other international issues," he said.

Earlier, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that the forthcoming meeting of Lavrov and Tillerson would help implement the agreements Russian and US presidents, Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, had achieved on settling the Syrian conflict, on defusing tensions over the Korean Peninsula and on other topical international issues.

The US State Department said that the top diplomats would also discuss Ukraine, including implementation of the Minsk peace deal, and some bilateral issues.

After a visit to Washington, Lavrov will head to Alaska to attend the Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting. Initially, the Lavrov-Tillerson talks were planned on the sidelines of the Arctic Council meeting, but later the meeting was relocated to the US capital. The White House did not offer comment on a possible face-to-face meeting between Lavrov and US President Donald Trump.

The Arctic Council was set up on September 19, 1996 as an intergovernmental forum of the Arctic nations. Its members are Russia, Canada, Denmark (including Greenland and the Faroe Islands), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and the United States. The Council serves as a major discussion platform for international cooperation in the Arctic.

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