Kerry urges Syria peace talks despite truce complaints

John Kerry

John Kerry

Secretary of State John Kerry said US and Russian officials would meet later Saturday on Syrian opposition complaints of truce violations but that peace talks were likely to go ahead as planned.

Asked at the end of a visit to Saudi Arabia whether indirect dialogue in Geneva between the Syrian regime and opposition could go ahead on Monday, Kerry said: “Yes, it can.”

“Our teams are meeting today with Russia in both Geneva and Amman, where very detailed lay downs will take place regarding these allegations and I am requesting a call with Foreign Minister (Sergei) Lavrov today and we will work through these and we have been each day,” he said of the opposition complaints.

Air raids by the Syrian regime killed seven civilians in rebel-held areas of second city Aleppo on Friday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

But Kerry said that “perceived” violations of the ceasefire that went into effect on February 27 should not get in the way of peace talks that the United Nations hopes will lead to a new elected leadership within 18 months.

“We want to try to not litigate the specifics in public, we’re trying to deal with them and we’ve been pretty effective at that,” the top US diplomat said.

“The level of violence by all accounts has been reduced by 80 to 90 percent, which is very, very significant. And what we want to do is continue to work to reduce these.”

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