John Kerry
John Kerry AFP photo

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is to meet Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Paris on Monday for talks on Syria's conflict, a senior U.S. State Department official said Friday, according to AFP.

They will meet "to continue discussions from their meeting just a few weeks ago in Russia, and provide updates as they plan ahead for the international conference on Syria," the official said in a statement.

Russia said on Friday the Damascus regime had agreed "in principle" to attend an international peace conference on the Syrian conflict that world powers hope will take place in Geneva in June.

Meanwhile, Syria's main opposition group entered a second day of talks aimed at finding an approach to a joint Russian-U.S. peace push to get all the sides to participate in international talks that have been dubbed "Geneva 2".

The U.S. and Russia recently agreed to push both warring sides in the Syria conflict to find a negotiated solution and to hold an international conference in search of peace.

Following the Russian announcement about the agreement by Bashar Al-Assad’s government to attend “in principle” the opposition urged Assad to speak out on whether it will take part in the conference.

The first Geneva meeting, last June, ended in a broad agreement aimed at forming a transition government in Syria and introducing a long-lasting truce.

But the deal was never implemented because of disagreements over what role Assad might have in the new government and neither side's decision to lay down their arms.

June's peace conference, which some media reports say has tentatively been scheduled for June 10, aims to put an end to more than two years of bloodshed that has killed more than 90,000 people.

Russia is a key backer of Assad while the United States supports the rebels fighting to overthrow him.

Russia last week clarified that despite Israel’s objection, it would go ahead with selling S-300 advanced missile systems to Syria.

Speaking to the Lebanese-based Al-Mayadeen television, which is close to the Hizbullah terror group, Lavrov said that Russia is “committed to the agreements” signed with Syria regarding the advanced missiles and will “fully carry them out.”

As he has said previously, Lavrov reiterated that Russia does not intend to sign new agreements with Syria for the sale of weapons, but explained that since the S-300 deal was signed before the outbreak of the civil war in Syria, Russia intends to carry it out as planned.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Martin Dempsey, called the Russian decision “ill-timed and very unfortunate”, adding that it “will embolden the regime and prolong the suffering.”

(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)

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