Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters after five hours of political and security meetings in Washington that officials from the two countries will meet again by the end of the month to prepare for the Syria talks.
               
He said that much of his meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry was devoted to Syria and both men agreed they needed to convene a so-called Geneva 2 conference "as soon as possible."
               
When asked whether this conference would in fact ever happen, Lavrov said that Russia already had won the agreement of its ally the Syrian government to send a delegation to Geneva without any preconditions.
               
"John Kerry assured me that the opposition would be persuaded to come to Geneva without any preconditions on the basis of reaching agreement with the government," said Lavrov.
               
A US official briefing reporters after the talks, which also included Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu, said Washington was working closely with the Syrian opposition but the onus was on Damascus.
               
"The test is not whether the Syrian government will come to Geneva. The test is whether the Syrian government will come to Geneva prepared to negotiate the transition of full executive powers to a transitional governing body," the US official said.
               
Moscow and Washington have been trying since May to organize an international peace conference to bring an end to the violence in Syria that has killed some 100,000 people in two years. But hopes that it can take place soon are fading quickly.

(Agencies)

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