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Saudi meeting brings Syria peace talks nearer: Kerry


U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks about the Ukraine crisis after his meetings with other foreign ministers in ParisA meeting of Syrian rebel groups in Saudi Arabia has made progress, boosting the chances that peace talks can resume next week, US Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday.

Riyadh is hosting negotiations between Syria’s diverse array of rebel and opposition groups to decide who will negotiate with President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

The United States wants to see countries with a stake in the Syrian conflict meet under United Nations auspices in New York on December 18 to push for a ceasefire.

But Russia, the other big player in the new “International Syrian Support Group”, has warned the meeting cannot go ahead before the results of the Saudi dialogue are known.

“We are planning towards the potential of a meeting in New York,” Kerry told reporters on the sidelines of the UN climate summit in Paris.

“It’s not locked in yet, but the meeting in Saudi Arabia appears to be very constructive at this point, and we need to wait for the results of that conference,” he said.

“But I think everybody is moving in the direction that they want to rapidly try to get to a political process and get it underway under UN auspices,” he added.

Kerry has said that he wants to travel to Moscow next week ahead of the planned New York meeting for talks on Syria and the crisis in Ukraine with President Vladimir Putin.

Russia has yet to publicly confirm the invitation.

In the meantime, Kerry said he had spoken to his Russian, Qatari and Saudi counterparts Sergei Lavrov, Khalid bin Mohammad Al-Attiyah and Adel Al-Jubeir from Paris.

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