Kerry, Lavrov to meet in person over Ukraine, Syria

US Secretary of State John Kerry, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to have face to face meeting in Zurich regarding ongoing Syrian, Ukrainian conflicts

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (L) listens to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry during a news conference at the United Nations Headquarters in Manhattan, New York, December 18, 2015.

Updated Jan 15, 2016

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Thursday that the United States Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov agreed to meet face to face in Zurich on January 20.

Key topics of the meeting would be ways to resolve the ongoing conflicts in Syria and Ukraine.

"In line with an instruction from the Russian and US presidents, who discussed urgent international problems by phone yesterday, the heads of the foreign policy departments continued to consider ways to settle the Syrian crisis and the conflict in Ukraine," the ministry said.

"Lavrov and Kerry agreed to hold a personal meeting on January 20 in Zurich," it added.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a press briefing on Thursday that the meeting will be devoted to issue of Syrian settlement. Russia and the United States are actively involved in the process and are co-chairs of the “Vienna format.”

International Syria Support Group (ISSG), which is also known as Syria peace talks, is an ongoing international negotiation to resolve the almost five year long conflict that has caused more than 250,000 deaths. It was first held in Vienna, Austria, on October 30, 2015.

The United States, Turkey, European countries and Arab states demand Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad to be removed from power to obtain peace in the country.

Assad refuses to do so, while enjoying the military and logistical support of his allies, Russia, Iran and Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah militia.

"We are proceeding from the assumption that the topic will be discussed in the most active way," Zakharova said.

"We will hope that the meeting will add constructiveness to the general process of Syrian settlement."

US President Barack Obama, in a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, emphasized the need to work toward a diplomatic solution for the crisis in Ukraine and address the conflict in Syria, the White House said.

Obama told Putin that a key next step in resolving the Ukrainian crisis was for all sides to agree on the modalities of local elections in the Donbas region of Ukraine, the White House said in a statement.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian rebels agreed to a new truce deal that was negotiated between Moscow and Kiev envoys in the Belarussian capital Minsk with the help of a senior negotiator from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

The deal goes into effect immediately and replaces one broken just hours after its signature at the end of last month.

TRTWorld and agencies