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Lavrov, Kerry hold phone conversation to discuss cooperation on Syria

The conversation was initiated by the American side

MOSCOW, September 8. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry have held a telephone conversation to continue the discussion of the possibilities of Russia-US interaction for defeating the terrorist groups operating in Syria, the Russian Foreign Ministry reported on Thursday, adding that the conversation was initiated by the American side.

"Based on the understanding in principle reached by the presidents of Russia and the United States at their meeting in Hangzhou on September 5, the sides continued to discuss the possibilities of Russian-American cooperation in the interests of defeating the terrorist groups acting in Syrian territory, assistance to the settlement of humanitarian problems and promoting the Syrian conflict’s political settlement," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

During a telephone conversation held on Wednesday, Lavrov and Kerry agreed to hold talks in Geneva on September 8 and 9.

"Under instructions from the Russian and US presidents after their September 5 conversation on the sidelines of the G20 summit, the two top diplomats discussed the remaining details of the agreements on establishing the Russian-US cooperation in the fight against terrorist groups operating in Syria, expanding humanitarian access and launching the intra-Syrian political process," the ministry said. "(They) agreed to continue the discussion in the course of a personal Lavrov-Kerry meeting in Geneva on September 8-9," the ministry said on Wednesday. The two officials intend to discuss the details of a possible agreement on Syria that includes, in particular, military coordination in the fight against terrorism, a ceasefire and issues of humanitarian access around Aleppo.

Earlier on Wednesday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov did not rule out that UN special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura might join the talks. He also noted that the resumption of the intra-Syrian negotiations would depend on the course of the Russian-US diplomatic contacts.

Lavrov and Kerry held brief talks on the sidelines of the G20 summit held in China’s Hangzhou on September 4-5. Efforts to hammer out an agreement on coordination in the fight against terrorists in Syria topped the agenda of the meeting.