Secretary of State John F. Kerry will meet in Geneva on Friday with his Russian counterpart, the State Department said, in a sign that the United States and Russia may be close to an agreement for a renewed cease-fire in Syria.
The Obama administration said earlier this week that the meeting would not take place unless they had resolved outstanding issues with a U.S. proposal for an extended truce, to be followed by new coordination in their counterterrorism efforts in Syria.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reportedly flew to Geneva before Kerry’s scheduled departure Thursday afternoon for a meeting with U.N. special envoy Staffan de Mistura, who has pleaded with the two governments to reach an agreement that would allow safe and sustained delivery of humanitarian aid to besieged Syrian towns and the northern city of Aleppo.
Kerry has had several telephone conversations this week with Lavrov, following their failure to reach an agreement over the weekend during meetings in China, where President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin also met on Syria and other issues on the margins of a G-20 summit.
Those meetings followed Kerry-Lavrov talks in Geneva two weeks ago on the U.S. proposal, which Kerry presented to Putin during a July visit to Moscow.
The State Department said of Kerry’s departure Thursday that talks with Lavrov “will focus on reducing violence, expanding humanitarian assistance for the Syrian people and moving towards a political solution needed to end the civil war.”