(BERLIN) — Secretary of State John Kerry held talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Berlin on Tuesday regarding the conflict in Syria.
Washington and Moscow have long been at odds at how to best end the two-year civil war that has killed more than 70,000 people and threatens to further destabilize the Middle East.
Kerry, who is on his first overseas mission since becoming America’s top envoy, has convinced Syria’s main exile opposition group to attend a Friends of Syria conference in Rome this week to help seek a diplomatic solution to the crisis.
Lavrov said the talks were “constructive” and he hoped Kerry would keep pushing Syria’s opposition to speak directly with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government in order to stop the violence that seems to escalate week-to-week.
Al-Assad is now expressing a willingness to speak with Syria’s armed opposition after months of refusing to talk with the fighters he calls “terrorists.
In other developments, there were published reports on Tuesday that the Obama administration may provide non-lethal military equipment, such as body armor and vehicles, and possibly strategic military training, to carefully selected rebel fighters as well as offering humanitarian assistance to the Syrian Opposition Coalition.
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Chandrika Narayan and Steve Almasy, CNN
Camille Verdier, Steve Visser and Margot Haddad, CNN
Steve Almasy, CNN