Lavrov and Kerry holding talks in Vienna

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry held their bilateral meeting in Vienna on Oct. 23.

Their talks were held behind closed doors at Vienna’s Imperial Hotel and lasted for 1.5 hours.

The two countries’ delegations joined the ministers around 40 minutes after the negotiations began.

Lavrov and Kerry arrived in the Austrian capital to attend multilateral talks on Syria and a meeting of the Middle East Diplomatic Quartet, which has started after the bilaterial talks. The four-party meeting involves Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Saudi Foreign Minister  Adil al-Jubayr and Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said he hoped to reconvene another meeting over the Syrian crisis on October 30, after talks with his Russian, Turkish, and Saudi Arabian counterparts.

Speaking to reporters after the October 23 meeting in Vienna, Kerry said: «What we agreed to do today is to consult with all parties and aim to reconvene, hopefully as early as next Friday with a broader meeting in order to explore whether there is sufficient common ground to advance a meaningful political process.»

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reiterated Moscow’s opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s removal by any outside forces.

«The fate of the president of Syria must be decided by the Syrian people,» Lavrov told reporters.

Washington said it was not pleased with the «red carpet» treatment Assad got in Moscow on October 20, in his first foreign visit since the start of the Syrian crisis in 2011.

The meeting came three weeks after Russia launched a campaign of air strikes against Islamist militants and rebels in Syria that has bolstered Assad’s forces.

Washington and its allies have criticized Russia for mainly targeting opponents of Assad, some backed by the West.

In related news, a group of Russian parliamentarians has arrived in Damascus for talks with Assad, according to Russian news reports.

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