The United States has declined to confirm Russia’s announcement that Secretary of State John Kerry will join Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva on September 8 to pin down a cease-fire in Syria.
"We're not there yet," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said on September 7 following a telephone conversation between Kerry and Lavrov, adding that there are “still challenges to be resolved.”
Earlier, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said the two countries’ top diplomats agreed to hold two days of talks that they hope will allow them to join forces in combating terrorists, expand humanitarian aid to civilians, and restart peace negotiations to end Syria’s 5 1/2-year civil war.
On September 5, U.S. President Barack Obama met with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in China to discuss a cease-fire deal.
“Given the gaps of trust that exist, that’s a tough negotiation and we haven’t yet closed the gaps in a way where we think it would actually work,” Obama said after the talks.