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Berlin promotes talks for Syria ceasefire, reduction in violence

Following the visit of the UN Syria envoy to Moscow, the German government is to host talks in Berlin. They are aimed at promoting peace talks, reducing violence and improving the humanitarian situation in Syria.

Berlin announced on Tuesday it would host talks between German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, his French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault (pictured with Steinmeier, top), UN envoy Steffan de Mistura and Syrian opposition leader Riad Hijab, as world leaders scramble to save the war-torn country's crumbling ceasefire.

The meeting, to be held on Wednesday, will center on "how the conditions for a continuation of the peace talks in Geneva can be met, as well as how a reduction of violence and an improvement in the humanitarian situation in Syria can be achieved," according to a statement by the German foreign ministry.

The two-month-old ceasefire, which was brokered by the US and Russia, is at risk of falling apart completely, as fighting around the city of Aleppo grows increasingly destructive.

At least 19 people were killed on Tuesday when rebels fired missiles into a government-controlled section of the city, hitting a hospital. Three children were among the dead, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Around 270 civilians on both sides of the conflict have reportedly been killed in Aleppo since renewed fighting on April 22.

Sergei Lavrov

UN envoy de Mistura (left) meets with Russian FM Lavrov in Moscow

Hopes for renewed ceasefire

The announcement of Wednesday's meeting came the same day de Mistura visited Moscow to speak with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Both men said that efforts were being made to reaffirm the ceasefire, with Lavrov expressing hope that the freeze in fighting could be extended to Aleppo.

"I am hoping that in the near future, maybe even in the next few hours, such a decision will be announced," the Russian foreign minister said.

De Mistura also said he was optimistic about the ceasefire being "brought back on track."

US Secretary of State John Kerry flew to Geneva on Monday, where he also emphasized the importance of halting the violence.

"We are hopeful, but we are not there yet," Kerry told reporters after his meeting with de Mistura and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir.

Watch video 02:13

Major players rush to salvage Syrian truce

blc/jm (Reuters, AFP, AP)

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