Global powers to discuss Syria in Vienna on May 17 – Moscow

MOSCOW, Russia – Russia's foreign ministry on Tuesday, May 10, said global powers would gather in Vienna on May 17 to discuss the crisis in Syria, where a recent surge in fighting has threatened peace efforts.

Speaking to AFP, a spokeswoman said Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov "is planning" to take part in the next week's meeting of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG).

Moscow – a key backer of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad – is currently spearheading a diplomatic push to resolve the conflict as co-chair of ISSG alongside the United States.

Washington and Moscow on Monday vowed to "redouble" efforts to end the 5-year war in Syria, as regime forces and rebels in the Syrian battleground city of Aleppo agreed to extend a truce for a second time.

Russia pledged to pressure Syria to "minimize" air operations over civilian areas while the US promised to support its "regional allies to help them prevent the flow of fighters, weapons, or financial support to terrorist organizations across their borders."

The statement also opened the door to greater joint cooperation in combatting the Islamic State group, saying both sides were "committed to undertaking efforts to develop a shared understanding of the threat posed, and territory controlled, by ISIL and the Nusra Front."

The two nations said they decided to issue a joint statement following violence that threatened to undermine peace efforts.

The ceasefire had come under strain in "several areas of the country" in recent days, it said.

Lavrov also discussed the next meeting of the ISSG with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif, a foreign ministry statement said.

A surge in fighting in Aleppo has threatened to kill off a broader February 27 ceasefire deal brokered by Moscow and Washington which had raised hopes of a political solution to end violence that has killed more than 270,000 people.

A temporary truce between government forces and rebel groups introduced last week was extended to Wednesday, May 11, at 2100 GMT, the Syrian army said Monday, May 9.

The ISSG – made up of 17 countries and organizations including the United Nations, but excluding parties from inside Syria – began gathering last year and has held a number of meetings as part of the most concerted international peace drive yet on Syria. – Max Delany, AFP /