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Key Russia / US talks in Geneva

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Key Russia / US talks in Geneva
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Talks between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry have become the focus of intense diplomatic efforts to resolve the Syria chemical weapons crisis.

Their meeting in Geneva on the practicalities of putting the weapons under international control could last until Saturday.

In parallel the United Nations is working on highly contentious draft resolution under the stewardship of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. “I hope that the current discussions related to safeguarding Syria’s chemical weapon stocks will lead to the Security Council playing an effective role in promoting an end to the Syrian tragedy,” said the UN chief.

The United Nations has also released a report in which it has accused both Syrian government and rebel fighters of committing war crimes.

Paulo Pinheiro, Chair of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria said in his presentation of the report: “Failure to bring about a political settlement has allowed the conflict not only to deepen in its intransigence but also to widen – expanding to new actors and to new, previously unimaginable crimes.”

While the talk is about chemical weapons, conventional arms have been used to kill most of the 100,000 people who are estimated to have died in the conflict since 2011.

Unverified footage has been been viewed on the internet purportedly showing the aftermath of an airstrike on Al-Bab near Aleppo.

Human rights groups claim fighting in Syria has recently intensified, trapping more of its people.