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Lavrov Says U.S.-Russia Monitoring Center For Syria To Be Created

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says an agreement has been reached to create a joint Russian-U.S. center in Geneva in the coming days that will be tasked with monitoring cease-fire violations in Syria.

Lavrov announced the development after his talks in Moscow on May 3 with the United Nations' Syria envoy, Staffan de Mistura.

De Mistura said after the talks that renewing indirect negotiations in Geneva between Syrian government and opposition negotiators was linked to reestablishing a cease-fire in and around Aleppo, where air strikes and intense ground combat have flared during the past two weeks.

Lavrov said there was no possibility to create the conditions necessary for direct peace talks between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime and the Syrian opposition that is backed by Saudi Arabia, the United States, and Western countries.

The opposition has been demanding that Assad step down from power as a precondition for direct peace talks.

Germany's Foreign Ministry announced on May 3 that Berlin will host talks on May 4 with French officials, de Mistura, and Syria's main opposition leaders to discuss "how the conditions for a continuation of the peace talks in Geneva can be met."

Based on reporting by Interfax, Reuters and AFP