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US cautiously open to Russia’s Syria peace conference

Russia has offered to host peace talks between the Syrian government and opposition.

US cautiously open to Russia’s Syria peace conference

By Michael Hernandez


The State Department on Monday expressed guarded optimism for a Syrian peace conference planned by Russia.

“We hope that Russia's engagement reflects a sincere intention to seek a political solution that's compatible with the Geneva communiqué,” State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke told reporters.

Syrian state news agency SANA reported during the weekend that the Syrian foreign ministry expressed a willingness to participate in preliminary talks in Moscow. The Syrian opposition, however, was dismissive of the initiative.

Russia, a staunch ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, announced last Thursday its intention to receive government and opposition delegations after Jan. 20.               

The U.S. is not involved in the planning of the conference, Rathke said.

The conflict in Syria began in March 2011. It has claimed more than 200,000 lives, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The Britain-based group monitors the conflict using a network of activists and medical resources inside Syria.

Two previous rounds of peace talks in Geneva failed to secure a comprehensive accord to end the violence.


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