• UN chief, Russia foreign minister discuss Syria crisis

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    UNITED NATIONS: United Nations (UN) chief Ban Ki-moon emphasized the need to find a political solution to the Syrian conflict when he met Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Thursday (Friday in Manila), a UN spokesman said.

    Russia, the United States and the United Nations have been attempting to set up a conference aimed at ending the brutal civil war, which has left more than 100,000 dead.

    But a conference initially planned for June failed to materialize.

    Russia is the Syrian regime’s main ally and has repeatedly blocked Western-backed resolutions at the UN Security Council.

    In a UN statement Thursday following his working dinner with Lavrov, Ban expressed concern over the “escalating humanitarian crisis” in Syria and “the disconcerting rise in sectarian violence.”

    Ban added, however, that he was encouraged by the resumption of direct talks in the Middle East peace process and pledged full UN support for the negotiations.

    Lavrov was in New York before a meeting in Washington on Friday with Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel amid strained relations between the two former Cold War rivals.

    AFP

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