U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry wants Russia’s help to stop the violence in Syria.
Government forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have attacked the rebel-held city of Aleppo for more than a week. Over 250 people have been killed.
At a meeting in Geneva with other diplomats, Kerry said he is, in his words, “getting closer to a place of understanding” on restarting a cease-fire in Syria that includes the city of Aleppo.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov did not attend the meeting. But Kerry said, “We are talking directly to the Russians, even now.” He wanted Russia to use its influence over the Syrian government to stop the violence.
Earlier, the U.S. secretary of state urged Russia to help restore calm during a visit to Jordan.
“These are critical hours. We look for Russia's cooperation, and we obviously look for the [Syrian] regime to listen to Russia.”
The Syrian military said last week that it would impose a temporary “regime of calm” in the areas around the capital, Damascus, and in Latakia province. However, Aleppo is not among these areas.
Kerry has said ending the violence in Aleppo is of top importance. Most of the victims are civilians. Hospitals and medical centers also have been targets of the fighting. A deadly bombing of a hospital supported by Doctors Without Borders last week caused an international outcry, but the air strikes have continued.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir was among those Kerry spoke with on Monday. He condemned the airstrike on the hospital and called on Syrian president Assad to step down.
On Sunday, Pope Francis also urged parties in the conflict to return to peace talks.
I’m Mario Ritter.
Zlatica Hoke and Luis Ramirez reported this story for VOA News. Mario Ritter adapted it for VOA Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.
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Words in This Story
critical –adj. extremely important
regime –n. a form of government