WASHINGTON -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva to discuss a political agreement that could help bring an end to the conflict in Syria, Washington and Moscow have said.
State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement on September 8 that Kerry would meet with his Russian counterpart on September 9 for discussions focusing "on reducing violence, expanding humanitarian assistance for the Syrian people, and moving towards a political solution needed to end the civil war."
The statement came after Russian state media reported the planned talks and just hours after another State Department spokesman, Mark Toner, told reporters that Washington did not believe it is "worth [Kerry's] while to go have a meeting" with Lavrov.
Washington and Moscow are backing different sides in Syria's five-year-old civil war that has killed up to 400,000 people. The Kremlin supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while the United States is backing rebel groups seeking his ouster.
Kerry and Lavrov in recent weeks have been in talks over a deal to boost U.S. and Russian military cooperation to fight the Islamic State group and other extremists in Syria.
Lavrov on September 8 held a meeting in Geneva with UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura.