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U.S., Russian Top Diplomats To Meet On Ukraine, Syria

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Zurich on January 20 to discuss the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.

During a phone call on January 14, Lavrov and Kerry scheduled the meeting "on the instructions of the Russian and U.S. presidents" after Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama spoke by phone on January 13, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

The top diplomats in their conversation "continued examining ways to resolve the Syrian crisis and the conflict in Ukraine," the ministry said.

In Washington, State Department spokesman John Kirby confirmed the meeting and said the U.S. side had raised concerns about Russia's tactics in the conflict in Syria.

"The secretary again expressed his concern -- deep concern -- over attacks on civilians by Russian and regime military forces," he said.

Kerry called on Russia to pressure its Syrian allies into allowing "humanitarian aid to the Syrian people, particularly in besieged and hard-to-reach places."

In their call, Putin and Obama discussed the effort "to bring about a political transition inside of Syria," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.

Based on reporting by AFP and TASS