Lavrov, who met his US counterpart John Kerry in Zurich yesterday in a bid to give momentum to Syria peace talks due to begin on January 25, rejected suggestions the negotiations might be delayed until February amid disagreements over who will represent the opposition.

"We are sure that in the next few days, in January, these talks should begin," he said.

He stressed though that the United Nations was leading the process and the start date would ultimately be determined by UN chief Ban Ki-moon and his envoy on Syria Staffan De Mistura.

Kerry did not make any comments today, but his spokesman John Kirby said in a statement that the two men had "discussed plans for the UN-led negotiations between the Syrian parties on January 25 and the importance of maintaining progress toward a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Syria."

The 17 countries pushing for a peace deal for war-ravaged Syria, including the United States, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Iran, have struggled to agree on the list of opposition delegates.

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