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Kerry to resume talks with Lavrov on Syria
[HAMBURG] US Secretary of State John Kerry will hold fresh talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Germany on Wednesday on efforts to halt fighting in the devastated Syrian city of Aleppo.
Mr Kerry, who is on a farewell tour in Europe, and Mr Lavrov will be in the northern city of Hamburg for a gathering of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe that opens Thursday.
Mr Kerry will continue on to Paris to take part in a separate meeting organised by his French, German and Qatari counterparts Saturday on Syria, the State Department said.
The announcement came as United States, Britain and France led a joint call for an immediate ceasefire to allow aid to reach Aleppo, in an appeal backed by Canada, Germany and Italy.
"The urgent need now is for an immediate ceasefire to allow the United Nations to get humanitarian assistance to people in eastern Aleppo," the joint statement said.
Mr Kerry, taking part in his last Nato foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on Tuesday, said he would work for a relaunch of peace talks between the Syrian regime and the opposition with the help of President Bashar al Assad's ally Russia.
"We have been trying to find a way to get to the negotiating table... but Assad has never shown any willingness," Mr Kerry said.
"Russia says Assad is ready to come to the table... and I am in favour of putting that to the test."
Mr Kerry has had repeated meetings on Syria with Mr Lavrov as the situation in Aleppo has deteriorated.
Moscow launched an air war in support of Mr Assad's forces last year, while Washington has supported rebel forces battling the regime.
Russia had announced talks with the United States in Geneva this week on organising a rebel withdrawal from Aleppo ahead of a ceasefire, but then Mr Lavrov accused Washington of backtracking.
Mr Kerry denied any change of plans and Washington itself accused Moscow of stalling after Russia and China blocked a UN Security Council resolution on Monday calling for a seven-day ceasefire.