Washington – Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Geneva for talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on the conflict in Syria, the U.S. State Department said Thursday.
"Their discussion follows recent conversations on Syria and will focus on reducing violence, expanding humanitarian assistance for the Syrian people, and moving towards a political solution needed to end the civil war," department spokesperson John Kirby said in a brief statement.
Hours earlier, Kirby's deputy said that Kerry had no immediate plans to meet with Lavrov, contradicting Wednesday's announcement from the Russian Foreign Ministry of bilateral talks this week in the Swiss city.
"We're just not at a point" to confirm "that it's worth his while" for Kerry to go, Mark Toner told reporters at the State Department's daily briefing.
"The remaining issues are on a technical level," the deputy spokesperson said.
U.S. and Russian officials conducted intense negotiations earlier this week on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Hangzhou, China, in pursuit of agreement on a renewed cease-fire in Syria.
Those efforts fell short, despite the personal involvement of Presidents Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin, who did agree, however, to have their aides continue contacts to resolve outstanding differences.
Washington wants to see a nationwide cease-fire in Syria, while Russia insists on the need for the Syrian army and its allies to continue the battle against Islamic State and al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra.