Kerry will seek to prepare the ground for a third round of talks of world powers on Syria amid doubts over whether a meeting penciled in for Friday in New York will go ahead.

Russia's Foreign Ministry said late on yeaterday that Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov agreed in a phone call on the need for specific preconditions to be met before any new meeting, throwing the timing into doubt.

However, US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said there were no preconditions to having this meeting.

Russia is one of Assad's staunchest allies and launched a campaign of air strikes to support his forces against insurgents on Sept. 30. It says only the Syrian people and not external powers should decide Assad's political fate.
Speaking before Kerry's arrival in Moscow, a State Department official said Kerry would also raise concerns about Russia's continued bombing of Syrian opposition forces instead of Islamic State militants, an approach likely to anger Moscow.

Kerry's meeting with Putin follows a meeting last week in Riyadh which agreed to unite a number of opposition groups excluding Islamic State to negotiate with Damascus in Syrian peace talks.

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