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UN's Ban calls for earnest Syrian talks

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has urged Syria's war-divided opposition and government to quickly and earnestly resume talks in Gevena, adding that he had asked the US and Russia to "use their influence."

Ban told the Munich Security Conference on Saturday that he had asked the top diplomats of both world powers to "ensure" that the talks resume on February 10, adding that the conflict parties should return to Geneva with more serious intent.

Neither side, including the Western-backed Syrian opposition, should see the talks just as a tactic to extend Syria's three-year-long civil war, Ban added.

"The parties may still be fighting but now they are also talking – this is the only hope for a political solution," Ban said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow was "putting daily pressure on the Syrian government but it was proving "very difficult" to persuade President Bashar al-Assad's administration to "make some gestures."

"This is a very difficult task," Lavrov said, adding that he hoped the

Geneva negotiations

would be "deepened and expanded" in the next round.

US Secretary of State

John Kerry reportedly laid stress

on the humanitarian situation in besieged areas of Syria, especially in the battered city of Homs.

A senior US State Department official quoted anonymously by the Associated Press said Kerry had met Lavrov on Friday night in Munich.

Aid deliveries stalled

Aid convoys intended for Homs remain stalled, despite agreement reached at the week-long first round of Geneva talks – chaired by UN-Arab League mediator Lakhdar Brahimi - which ran until Friday.

Attending the annual

Munich Security Conference

are more than 400 international guests, including 20 heads of government and 50 foreign ministers

ipj/mz (AP, dpa)

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