Russia's Lavrov, US' Tillerson discuss Syria over phone

Russia's Lavrov, US' Tillerson discuss Syria over phone

Both sides also discuss preparations for meeting of Syrian sides in Vienna


By Elena Teslova

MOSCOW (AA) - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson discussed the situation in northern Syria in a telephone call Wednesday, according to the official website of the Russian foreign service.

“Discussed the situation with the Syrian settlement, including the course of operations in the northern regions and the preparations to the meeting of the Syrian sides in Vienna and to Syrian National dialogue Congress in Sochi,” a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

In separate details of the call, the U.S. State Department said the two diplomats discussed "Russia’s role in ensuring the [Bashar] Assad regime plays a constructive role in the UN-led Geneva process".

Those Geneva talks, a special meeting on Syria with representation from the regime and opposition, will be held Jan. 25-26 at the International Vienna Center in Vienna. A statement by the UN said the meeting is to draw discussions on constitutional issues.

The Syrian National Dialogue Congress set for Jan. 28-29, it is to be held in Russian city of Sochi. It is expected to be attended by all sectors of Syrian society except for terror groups as it is prescribed by UN resolution 2254 that stands for the inclusive character of the inter-Syrian dialogue.

Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin earlier said the summit in Sochi would prove challenging, mostly due to the multiple issues on the table. ​

Lavrov and Tillerson also talked about North Korea. Lavrov noted the readiness to a dialogue demonstrated by Pyongyang and warned against escalation in tensions that could be provoked by “aggressive rhetoric against North Korea, including nailing together blocs against it and threatening by sea blockade.

In its statement on the call, the U.S. said Tillerson discussed a previous meeting with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland in which he called "out North Korea’s unlawful and dangerous development of nuclear and ballistic missile programs and stressed the urgent need for all parties to implement UNSCRs related to North Korea,” a reference to UN Security Council Resolutions.

Tillerson also noted a pending meeting between Russia and the U.S. on Ukraine. He "emphasized the need for Russia to accelerate implementation of its commitments under the Minsk Agreements and reverse the recent escalation in the fighting in eastern Ukraine", State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

*Michael Hernandez contributed to this report from Washington

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