Russia, US to Hold New Syria Talks Over Weekend

State Dept: Main Focus Will Be a Ceasefire in Aleppo

by Jason Ditz, October 12, 2016

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Secretary of State John Kerry have agreed to organize a new round of Syrian peace talks this weekend in Switzerland, the first high-level diplomacy on Syria since the Obama Administration recently announced it was cutting all ties with Russia over the matter.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry was the first to announce the new talks, and both sides have confirmed that “key regional partners” will also be invited, keeping this a multilateral discussion, instead of the bilateral US-Russia talks that dominated in recent months.

According to the State Department, the main focus of the talks will be to negotiate a new ceasefire in Aleppo, though spokesman John Kirby also insisted that the talks would aim toward creating the conditions for a new round of political talks on Syria’s future.

The last Syrian ceasefire collapsed last month after seven days, with the main incident during the pause a US airstrike which attacked a Syrian Army base. Two days later, Syria withdrew from the talks and attacked eastern Aleppo, help by al-Qaeda-linked rebels. Russia, which had previously negotiated joint US strikes against the Nusra Front in Aleppo, instead joined Syria in the strikes, since the US was unwilling to cooperate.

Since then, US officials have angrily condemned the strikes against Nusra as war crimes, and demanded international action against Russia for having done so. The talks appear to mark at least the temporary end to US threats against Russia.

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