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Russia announces Syria talks with US, regional powers Saturday

Russia on Wednesday said it would hold Syria talks with the United States and regional powers this weekend, the first meeting on the conflict since Washington froze bilateral ceasefire negotiations.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry agreed to hold talks aimed at “creating the conditions for the resolution of the Syrian crisis” in Lausanne on Saturday, alongside top diplomats from “key countries in the region”, Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

In an interview Wednesday Lavrov said that talks should include Turkey, Saudi Arabia and possibly Qatar, CNN reported.

“We would like to have a meeting in this narrow format, to have a businesslike discussion, not another General Assembly-like debate,” he was quoted as saying.

A US State Department source confirmed the meeting to AFP: “Can confirm Lausanne. Lausanne will be a meeting with key regional participants as well as Russia.”

The meeting comes as tensions between Moscow and the West have spiked over the conflict after peace efforts unravelled and Russia unleashed an intense bombing campaign to back up a regime assault on the war-ravaged city of Aleppo.

The US pulled the plug on talks with Russia aimed at reviving a flagging ceasefire on October 3, sending ties with Russia spiralling to a new low.

The West has accused Moscow of potential war crimes as its forces have blasted rebel-held eastern Aleppo in support of Bashar al-Assad’s troops.