Russia, US agree to \'redouble\' efforts for Syria political settlement
MOSCOW - Russia and the United States on Monday agreed to step up efforts to find a political solution to the Syrian conflict and extend a truce across the whole of the country.
"The Russian Federation and United States are determined to redouble efforts to reach a political settlement of the Syrian conflict", according to a joint US-Russian statement published by the Russian foreign ministry.
The two sides, co-chairs of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG), noted "progress" in curbing fighting, but stressed the "difficulties faced... in several areas of the country, especially in the recent period, as well as remaining problems in ensuring humanitarian access to the besieged areas.
"As a result, we have decided to reconfirm our commitment to the (ceasefire) in Syria and to intensify efforts to ensure its nationwide implementation."
They added: "We also intend to enhance efforts to promote humanitarian assistance to all people in need."
To this end Russia "will work with the Syrian authorities to minimise aviation operations over areas that are predominantly inhabited by civilians or parties" to the ceasefire, it said.
Washington meanwhile said it was "committed to intensifying its support and assistance to regional allies to help them prevent the flow of fighters, weapons or financial support to terrorist organisations across their borders".
A temporary ceasefire between Syrian regime forces and rebel groups came into force last week in Syria's second city Aleppo, after an earlier cessation of hostilities from February 27 had collapsed.
The temporary truce, initially for two days and then prolonged until Tuesday at 00:01 am (21:01 GMT Monday), was decided after fighting which killed nearly 300 people since April 22 in Aleppo, where some areas are held by rebels and some by government forces.
The United Nations has sought in vain for months to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict, which has left over 270,000 people dead since March 2011 and forced millions to flee.