U.S. Secretary John Kerry in London to renew Syrian peace efforts

LONDON, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, in an effort to renew Syrian peace efforts, is meeting in London with his United Kingdom, French, Indian and German counterparts.

U.S Secretary of State John Kerry talks about the recent attacks in Syria during the Security Council meeting at the United Nations in New York City on September 21, 2016. He is in London speaking with representatives from alliied nations about what to do to move the peace process along in Syria. Fie Photo by Monika Graff/UPI | License Photo

Kerry met Saturday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and representatives from other nations to discuss the matter, BBC reported.

While nothing was formalized, Russia did speak about “ideas” emerging. Kerry met with Lavrov in the Swiss lakeside city of Lausanne, but the meeting lasted just 40 minutes. State Department Spokesman John Kirby called the meeting “businesslike.”

The conversation came just 12 days after Washington suspended bilateral contact with Russia and called for an investigation in to war crimes involving Russia’s actions in Syria, the New York Times reported.

Even before that discussion took place, both sides played down any possibility of a breakthrough.

The talks in London started out with discussions involving Yemen and talk of a ceasefire in the two-year conflict there.

The conflict in Yemen involves a Saudi-led multinational coalition which is backing the internationally recognized president against the Houthi rebels. More than 6,800 people have been killed in the conflict, including many civilians.

“This is the time to implement a ceasefire unconditionally and then move to the negotiating table,” Kerry said.

U.K. and U.N. Yemen envoy Ould Cheikh Ahed joined in the call for a ceasefire within days.

Meanwhile, a ceasefire brokered in Syria in September collapsed after only a few days. Since then Russia-backed Syrian forces have been bombing Aleppo, considered the most high-profile battleground in that country’s civil war. Washington has called the bombings war crimes.

By Yvette C. Hammett