Russia, U.S., U.N. set to hold trilateral Syria talks in Geneva

Moscow has sought to persuade nations in the U.S.-led coalition to join its own forces flying a bombing campaign in Syria

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Russia, the United States and the United Nations will hold talks on Syria in Geneva on Friday as diplomatic efforts to end the conflict are ratcheted up, Moscow and Washington announced.

“We will be having consultations in the trilateral format -- Russia, the United States and the UN,” Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov told the RIA Novosti state news agency on Wednesday.

He added that U.N. peace envoy Staffan de Mistura was also set to take part in the talks aimed at ending a brutal war that has killed more than 250,000 people and forced millions from their homes since March 2011.

U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Anne Patterson would represent the U.S. at the meeting to discuss moving forward on a political transition in Syria and “trying to get at the framework and the architecture for a ceasefire”.

Gatilov said Russia would be calling for the “intensification of joint efforts” in the “fight against terrorism”.

The talks mark the latest step in the so-called Vienna process that began in late October when 17 countries, including the UN and EU representatives, met to discuss a political solution to end the fighting between President Bashar al-Assad and the opposition.

The next meeting between top diplomats in the Vienna process is expected to take place this month in New York.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in a call with his U.S. counterpart John Kerry on Wednesday, said they needed to draw up a list of “terrorist groups that we must not talk to and that we must fight together”, his ministry said.
Kerry said he would visit Moscow next week.

Moscow has sought, so far without success, to persuade nations in the U.S.-led coalition that opposes Assad to work with its own forces flying a bombing campaign in Syria and with Damascus in a broader coalition against ISIS.

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