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US and Russia converge on south Syria ceasefire


The announcement comes as a symbolic show of cooperation between the worldwide giants, after US President Donald Trump met with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin for the first time in what has been the most eagerly awaited encounter at the summit.

The cease-fire goes into effect Sunday at noon Damascus time, according to USA officials and the Jordanian government, which is also involved in the deal.

Jordan and Israel, which both share borders with Syria, were part of the agreement, one of the officials said. The two USA allies both share a border with the southern part of Syria and have been concerned about violence from Syria's civil war spilling over the border.

The Syrian government could not hide its disappointment for the failure to establish four de-escalation zones during the Astana talks between Russia, Turkey and Iran.

Describing U.S. relations with Russian Federation as being "at a very low point", Tillerson added: "At this point it's very hard to say what Russia's intentions are in this relationship".

Lavrov further said that despite the standing questions over Tillerson's comments, Moscow saw any willingness by the U.S. to cooperate on Syria as a "step in the right direction".

Syria's civil war has seen forces loyal to Assad and Iranian allies pitted against rebel forces seeking to impose a brutal Islamic rule.

The three countries have been successfully mediating talks between the Syrian government and opposition in the Kazakh capital of Astana since January.

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The French representative discussed the viewpoints of his respective country on advancing the Astana process, and was in turn informed of Iran's views and the prospect of cooperation from other governments for putting an end to the Syrian crisis.

He said that Russian Federation, as an ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad and a participant in the conflict, "has a responsibility to ensure that the needs of the Syrian people are met and that no faction in Syria illegitimately re-takes or occupies areas liberated from ISIS' or other terrorist groups' control". He said the US-Russia co-operation would create stability in Syria as US-backed forces continue their assault on the Islamic State group.

Tillerson said the difference this time is Russia's interest in seeing Syria return to stability.

"Ultimately, this process, in our view, will lead to a resolution of Assad's status, the Syrian people should determine their country's political future through a political process" the United States official stressed.

Charles Lister of the Middle East Institute think-tank in Washington cautioned against a United States approach in Syria that relied on Russian Federation.

Tillerson also said Russian Federation had an obligation to prevent the use of chemical weapons by Assad regime.

The Syrian regime has carried out a number of deadly chemical attacks in areas besieged by anti-Assad rebel groups.

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