HAFR AL-BATIN, Saudi Arabia U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Saturday Washington believes that U.N.-sponsored peace talks should go ahead on Monday despite "perceived" truce violations by Syrian government forces, according to a U.S. pool reporter accompanying Kerry.
Speaking after breakfast with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, Kerry said Russian and American monitors were to meet in Amman and Geneva on Saturday to try to further reduce violence in Syria, and that he planned to request a call with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.
Asked if the talks can go ahead as planned despite ceasefire violations, Kerry said: "Yes, it can."
"Our teams are meeting today with Russia in both Geneva and Amman, where very detailed lay downs will take place regarding these allegations, and I am requesting a call with Foreign Minister Lavrov today and we will work through these and we have been each day," he added.
Syria's main opposition group said it would attend the peace talks in Geneva on Monday but accused the government of President Bashar al-Assad of preparing to escalate the war to strengthen its negotiating position.
Kerry, who flew to Saudi Arabia on Friday for talks with King Salman and other senior officials, said the level of violence "by all accounts has been reduced by 80 to 90 percent, which is very, very significant. And what we want to do is continue to work to reduce these."
"But we've made it very very clear that the Assad regime cannot use this process as a way to exploit the situation, when others are trying in good faith to abide by it. And there is a limit to the patience with respect to that," he added.
Kerry also said that a U.S. meeting with the foreign ministers of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) would take place at some point in next few weeks in the region, but gave no date or precise venue.
The U.S. pool reporter said that both Kerry and Jubeir said that all present had agreed to push hard on the Syria talks, for a return to U.N.-sponsored peace talks to try to end the war in Yemen, and to develop plans to help Libya overcome its crisis.
(Writing by Sami Aboudi; Editing by Catherine Evans)
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Published Date: Mar 12, 2016 02:15 pm | Updated Date: Mar 12, 2016 02:15 pm