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Kerry to meet Russia’s Lavrov in Geneva on Friday


US Secretary of State John Kerry will meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Geneva on Friday for talks on Syria and Ukraine, his spokesman said Wednesday.

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova confirmed the meeting.

Kerry, currently on a visit to Nigeria, had said Monday that he hoped to meet Lavrov this week.

Washington and Moscow have been in contact for weeks over establishing military cooperation to fight the Islamic State jihadist group in Syria.

“Other issues” will also be on the agenda, spokesman John Kirby said, without elaborating.

Lavrov and Kerry spoke by phone on Wednesday and discussed Syria, specifically the surge of violence in the second city of Aleppo, the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.

The two men discussed “the prospects of coordinating Russian and US actions to fight terrorism” and “the need to draw a boundary line between Syrian opposition forces orientated towards Washington and terrorist groups that hide behind them,” it said.

Russia and the United States are on opposite sides of the conflict in Syria, but have a common foe in the Islamic State group.

The situation in Syria has been further complicated by the launch of an offensive by Turkey — a US NATO ally opposed to the regime in Damascus — aimed at pushing the jihadists out of the Syrian border town of Jarabulus.

On Ukraine, the United States supports the pro-Western government in Kiev and has led sanctions against Moscow for annexing Crimea in 2014 and supporting pro-Russian separatists in the east.

Tensions between Russia and Ukraine soared this month after Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Kiev of attempting an armed incursion into Crimea.

Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko warned of a possible “full-scale” Russian invasion.

Speaking to Kerry on Wednesday, Lavrov “urged the US to use its influence on Kiev to warn it against provocations and incite it to dialogue” with the rebels in eastern Ukraine, the Russian foreign ministry said.

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