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Kerry and Lavrov discuss next round of Syria talks

US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov discussed next week's fresh round of talks between Syria's warring sides after Damascus finally agreed to attend.

MOSCOW: US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on Saturday discussed next week's fresh round of talks between Syria's warring sides after Damascus finally agreed to attend.

The two foreign policy chiefs "spoke about the situation in Syria in the context of the direct talks due to restart in Geneva on February 10" during a phone call, the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement without giving more details.

Ten days of talks in Switzerland last month broke up with the opposition and Syrian government trading barbs after failing to agree on a single point despite persistent pressure from UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, and cosponsors Russia and the United States.

Damascus had left open whether it would even attend a second round of peace talks due to open on Monday but deputy foreign minister Faisal Muqdad finally confirmed on Friday that Damascus would take part.

The Syrian authorities call rebels "terrorists", and insists that the priority in the Geneva talks must be to focus on "terrorism".

For the opposition, the central point of the talks is the transition foreseen in the 2012 Geneva I communique, which does not specifically spell out President Bashar al-Assad's future.

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