US, Russia hold talks on Syria ceasefire ahead of UN meeting

United States and Russia hold talks on Syria peace process in Geneva ahead of United Nations meeting

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, US Secretary of State John Kerry and UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura attend a news conference after the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) meeting in Munich, Germany on February 12, 2016.

Updated Feb 20, 2016

The United States and Russian military officials have held in Geneva ahead of a wider meeting on Friday aimed at trying to secure a cessation of hostilities in Syria, diplomats said.

The unannounced bilateral meeting was aimed at narrowing positions before the two powers jointly chair a UN meeting on the issue, the diplomats added without giving further details.

"The idea of the whole exercise is for Russia and the United States to have a joint view. The UN will apparently promote aceasefire and implementation, and will negotiate with the parties," a diplomat close to the process said.

UN Spokesman Michele Zacchea said that the wider meeting of the International Syria Support Group would take place at the UN on Friday afternoon.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said on Thursday that Russia expects agreements on a ceasefire in Syria will be reached on Friday.

Russian air strikes launched in September last year turned the tide of fighting in favour Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad’s forces after months of military gains by the opposition.

Russia launched air strikes to support the Assad regime, saying it was targeting the DAESH terrorist group.

UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, arrives for a news conference after the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) meeting in Munich, Germany on February 12, 2016. (Reuters)

Resumption of Feb 25 talks not realistic

United Nations Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura said on Thursday that resuming Syrian peace talks on the scheduled date of Feburary 25 is not a realistic option.

"I cannot realistically send out invitiations to new talks in Geneva on Feb 25, but we intend to do so soon," a Swedish newspaper quoted Mistura as saying.

"We need 10 days' preparation. But the talks ... can be successful if emergency aid continues and we get a ceasefire," Mistura said.

Mistura delayed a first round of talks on Feb. 3, saying that there was more work to be done by the big powers sponsoring the talks.

International powers agreed to try to bring about a "cessation of hostilities" in Syria's five-year civil war this week.

TRTWorld and agencies