Kerry resumes talks with Lavrov on Aleppo truce
US Secretary of State John Kerry held fresh talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Germany Wednesday on efforts to halt fighting and withdraw rebels from the devastated Syrian city of Aleppo.
Kerry, who is on a farewell tour in Europe, and Lavrov were in the northern city of Hamburg for a gathering of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe that opens Thursday.
Kerry will continue on to Paris to take part in a separate meeting organised by his French, German and Qatari counterparts Saturday on Syria, the State Department said.
The announcement came as the United States, Britain and France led a joint call for an immediate ceasefire to allow aid to reach Aleppo, in an appeal backed by Canada, Germany and Italy.
In Hamburg, Lavrov said as he walked into a hotel to meet Kerry, in a brief comment to journalists, that “I agreed and confirm the support of the American proposal of December 2”.
The Russian side had earlier said Kerry’s proposal made in Rome last Friday involves a complete rebel withdrawal from eastern Aleppo, but then accused Washington of backtracking and cancelling talks due to be held in Geneva this week.
Kerry denied any change of plans and Washington itself accused Moscow of stalling after Russia and China blocked a UN Security Council resolution on Monday calling for a seven-day ceasefire.
Kerry, taking part in his last NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on Tuesday, said he would work for a relaunch of peace talks between the Syrian regime and the opposition with the help of President Bashar al-Assad’s ally Russia.
“Russia says Assad is ready to come to the table… and I am in favour of putting that to the test,” Kerry said in Brussels.
Kerry has had repeated meetings on Syria with Lavrov as the situation in Aleppo has deteriorated.
Moscow launched an air war in support of Assad’s forces last year, while Washington has supported rebel forces battling the regime.
Kerry, asked by a journalist in Hamburg what it would take to bring peace to Aleppo, said only: “common sense”.
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