US, Russia discuss Syria crisis

Moscow, June 3 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry held a telephone talk to discuss ways for resolving the Syria crisis, the Russian foreign ministry said.

"On the US initiative, a telephone conversation was held on June 1 between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry. The sides discussed the ways of settling the Syria crisis, including the situation with the preparation of an international peace conference," the ministry said in a statement.

Lavrov announced in May after a Moscow meeting with Kerry that the two countries had decided to hold an international conference aimed at facilitating a solution through political dialogue to the Syrian crisis.

More than 80,000 people have died in Syria since fighting broke out between government forces and rebels in March 2011.

The conference is designed to be a follow-up to last summer's international meeting in Geneva that drafted a peace roadmap for Syria. Moscow wants to involve all the nations that took part in the Geneva conference.

According to diplomatic sources, the conference may take place in mid-June, but both Moscow and Washington have so far avoided giving exact dates.

The Syrian government has already confirmed its readiness to take part in the conference. Certain Syrian opposition groups have also said they are ready to send their representatives, while others insist on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's resignation as a precondition for the talks.

--IANS/RIA Novosti



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