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Kerry, European foreign ministers to meet on Syria next week

US Secretary of State John Kerry and his French, German, British and Italian counterparts will meet Sunday in Paris to discuss the Syrian crisis ahead of planned peace talks in Geneva, according to France’s foreign minister.

The five diplomats will examine the status of the ceasefire in effect since February 27 and “if everything is going forward as we hope… encourage the opposition to return to the negotiating table,” Jean-Marc Ayrault tells reporters as he arrives in Cairo Wednesday for a two-day visit.

Ayrault says the European foreign ministers will also ask the United States, which with Russia brokered the truce, “to be closely involved in monitoring the effectiveness of the Syrian ceasefire”.

He says the European ministers intend to ensure that the Russian air strikes in Syria are aimed only at jihadist organisations the Islamic State group and Al-Nusra Front, and not against the more moderate opposition.

“We must remain vigilant,” Ayrault says.

The Syrian regime has announced it will attend the Geneva talks starting on March 14. The opposition has said it was still considering whether to go despite a major lull in fighting since the ceasefire began.

— AFP

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