Lavrov, Kerry to meet on Syria and Ukraine in Geneva on Friday

August 24, 2016 5:38 AM EDT

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) meets Russia's foreign minister Sergey Lavrov during a bilateral meeting at the sidelines of the ASEAN foreign ministers meeting in Vientiane, Laos July 26, 2016. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

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GENEVA (Reuters) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will hold talks in Geneva on Friday focusing on the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine, both sides said.

The two men also discussed Syria by phone on Wednesday, the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.

U.S. and Russian officials, whose countries back opposite sides in the five-year Syrian war, have been meeting to agree on military cooperation in the fight against their common enemy there, the Islamic State militant group.

Kerry said earlier this week the talks were nearing an end, with technical teams still meeting to discuss details.

Earlier, a U.S. official said that Kerry, who was in Abuja, Nigeria, would meet Lavrov in Geneva on Aug. 26 to discuss the conflict in Syria and the Ukraine crisis.

The Russian foreign ministry said the two men discussed Syria on Wednesday, "including the situation around Aleppo where the (Syrian) government forces, with the support of the Russian military, have been carrying a humanitarian operation.”

No progress has been reported on a 48-hour humanitarian pause sought by the United Nations in Aleppo to allow aid deliveries and evacuation of wounded from the divided city of 2 million that lacks food and water.

Russia also said that the two ministers had talked about the need to separate "Washington-oriented" Syrian opposition groups from the "terrorist groups" that are not covered by a regularly broken ceasefire.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva, Lesley Wroughton in Abuja and Vladimir Soldatkin in Moscow; writing by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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