Kerry voices concern to Lavrov about new Aleppo fighting

October 24, 2016 12:55 PM EDT

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) react around a table during a bilateral meeting where they discussed the crisis in Syria, in Lausanne, Switzerland, October 15, 2016. REUTERS/Jean-Christophe Bott/Pool


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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry voiced concern to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday about renewed fighting and air strikes in the Syrian city of Aleppo after a break of several days, the State Department said.

Lavrov and Kerry discussed the situation in Syria in a phone call and agreed that experts from several countries meeting in Geneva would continue searching for ways to resolve the Aleppo crisis, the State Department and Russia's Foreign Ministry said.

Lavrov told Kerry the United States must fulfil its obligation to separate moderate opposition groups from "terrorists" in Syria, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The geographic proximity between moderate Syrian rebels and groups considered terrorist by Russia and the United States was one factor in the failure last month of a ceasefire negotiated by Moscow and Washington.

"They talked about the importance of the continued multilateral discussions in Geneva and how ... to get a meaningful cessation of hostilities and the delivery of humanitarian aid," State Department spokesman John Kirby said of Kerry and Lavrov.

During the call, Kerry expressed concern about the renewal of air strikes and ground attacks in Aleppo by Syrian government forces and their Russian supporters after a pause in the fighting for several days, Kirby said.

He noted that humanitarian aid had still not made it through to people under siege in Aleppo, despite the pause in fighting.

Asked whether the multilateral talks on Syria in Geneva had made progress, Kirby said only that the dialogue was "ongoing" and he had nothing further to report.

The United States and Russia launched the multilateral talks after the ceasefire they negotiated collapsed in September. Afterward, the United States broke off those bilateral talks with Russia, accusing Moscow of not living up to its commitments.

The two countries have since focused on multilateral talks that include other countries affected by the conflict.

(Reporting by David Alexander in Washington and Vladimir Soldatkin in Moscow; Editing by Catherine Evans and Peter Cooney)



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