THE WORLDPOST
06/21/2013 05:44 am ET Updated Aug 21, 2013

Syria Talks: U.S. And Russia To Meet In Geneva Next Week

AP

GENEVA, June 21 (Reuters) - Senior U.S. and Russian officials will meet the international mediator on Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, in Geneva on Tuesday to discuss a peace conference, a U.N. spokeswoman said on Friday.

"Any talk, any discussion is a positive sign," U.N. spokeswoman Corinne Momal-Vanian told a news briefing in the Swiss city, where a previous round of talks was held on June 5.

An international peace conference aimed at ending the conflict in Syria, first muted in June or July, is unlikely to take place before August after G8 leaders clashed with Russia over the nature of a transitional government.

With Russia and Iran arming President Bashar al-Assad's government forces, and Lebanon's Hezbollah fighters joining the war on his behalf, Western powers have agreed in the last week to step up aid to the mainly Sunni rebels, who were driven out of the strategic town of Qusair, north of Damascus.

Foreign ministers of the Friends of Syria group of nations, which backs the opposition, are to meet in Qatar on Saturday to discuss ways to help the rebel Free Syrian Army defend the northern city of Aleppo.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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