Russia and US to convene peace conference on Syria
Russia and the United States announced on Tuesday they would seek to convene an international conference aimed at ending the civil war in Syria, jointly intensifying their diplomatic pressure on the combatants to peacefully settle a conflict that has taken more than 70,000 lives and left millions displaced and desperate, New York Times reported.
Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, announced their agreement to arrange the conference, possibly before the end of the month. Mr. Kerry, who was visiting Russia seeking to find common ground on the Syria conflict, told reporters at a joint appearance with Lavrov in Moscow that the aim would be to push the government of President Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian opposition to attend.
Kerry said both Russia and the United States want to hold the conference "as soon as practical, possibly, hopefully as soon as the end of this month."
The announcement appeared to signal a strong desire by both countries to halt what has been a dangerous escalation in the conflict, with evidence of chemical weapons use, a surge in the number of civilians fleeing combat and overwhelming Syria's neighbors. Israeli aerial attacks this past weekend on suspected munitions sites in Syria heightened the tensions in the region.