Syria talks: Lavrov, Kerry hold record marathon talks in Geneva as suspense builds
Sergey Lavrov told the journalists that the two top diplomats are thinking of ending this round of Geneva negotiations on Syrian crisis after waiting for more than five hours for Kerry to get approval on the deal from Washington. He said that the two might be continuing their discussions next week.
"We are there, I don't know where our friends are, but I believe it's important for them to check with Washington,” Lavrov said, referring to the fact that Russia had approved a text of a deal and the US is still working on its position. Answering a reporter’s question, Lavrov also said that the Russian side approved the text of the deal on Syria, which is being negotiated at the meeting.
"We're thinking of maybe calling it a day, maybe meeting next week," he said before he went back behind closed doors.
While Kerry was still thrashing out the details of the deal with Washington, the Russian FM attempted to cheer up the exhausted and starving journalist pack with pizzas and a couple of vodka bottles.
Entering the press hall with starving journos, Lavrov carried six pizza boxes, and clarified they were a present from the American delegation.
According to Maria Zakharova, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson, that was the time when some of the foreign journalists asked for vodka.
“Pizza from Americans, vodka from us,” said Lavrov, handing out the treat minutes later.
Staffan de Mistura, the UN Special Envoy for Syria, who was also present at the talks, said that the final results of the negotiations have not been achieved but he still hopes for an agreement.
In the meantime, the US State Department spokesman, John Kirby, told journalists that John Kerry still “continues to have discussions with his colleagues in Washington on Syria proposal he has been working on with Russians.”
Meanwhile, a source in the Russian delegation also said that the Washington’s position became the major reason for the negotiations to be dragged out. “Apparently, the coordination of negotiating positions got stuck in Washington’s vertical of executive power,” the source told Interfax.
The ongoing talks are surrounded by speculations and the atmosphere of uncertainty is prevailing in Geneva as nothing specific has still been said about the nature of the negotiations and neither Lavrov nor Kerry have made any official statements after more than twelve hours of negotiations.
In the meantime, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said that the US and Russian diplomats are working on a possible ceasefire in Syria that can last from seven to ten days, an RT correspondent at the scene reports.
The main goal of the ceasefire is reportedly to ensure that the humanitarian aid gets into the besieged areas of Syria, particularly to the city of Aleppo. The issue of separation of the moderate opposition forces from terrorist groups is reportedly still the major stumbling block in the ongoing negotiations, according to the RT correspondent.
Steinmeier stressed that the two sides have a real chance to agree on a ceasefire during these talks, adding that there is already an “existing document concerning the truce” that lasts many days. He also said that the differences between Russia and the US reduced to just two or three issues.
Meanwhile, earlier in the day some journalists got so tired of waiting and became so weary of uncertainty that they fell asleep.
The two diplomats had at least 40 conversations ranging from phone calls to marathon talks this year alone. The longest negotiations they had in 2016 lasted 12 hours and took place in late August. Those talks allowed Russia and the US to reduce mutual levels of misunderstanding. At that time, the two countries also agreed to enhance their cooperation on Syria, particularly on the military level.
The previous talks between Lavrov and Kerry continued for 11 hours.