U.S. and Russia Fail to Reach Syria Deal on Sidelines of G20 Summit

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Diplomats from the United States and Russia met on the sidelines of the G20 economic summit on Monday but failed to reach an agreement that would bring an end to violence in Syria, officials said.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov met to discuss the ongoing crisis in the country but they could not come to an agreement, a senior State Department official told the Associated Press.

But the negotiations are not dead in the water. Despite the failure to secure an agreement, U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin met informally on Monday at the G20 economic summit in China.

Details of their private meeting will be released later in the day, White House spokesman Ned Price said, according to the Associated Press.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin Chinese President Xi Jinping (C) makes a speech during the opening ceremony of the G20 Leaders Summit as US President Barack Obama (L) and Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R) listen on September 4, 2016 in Hangzhou, China. Russian and U.S. diplomats however failed to reach an agreement on ending the violence in Syria on the margins of the summit. Nicolas Asfouri - Pool/Getty Images

The Syrian war has left more than 300,000 people dead, forced millions to flee the country into neighbouring states or into Europe via treacherous routes, as well as internally displacing millions. The conflict is now in its sixth year.

Washington is supporting a small number of Syrian rebels in the hope that they will help to defeat more extremist elements on the ground in the country, such as the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as the Al-Nusra Front.

Moscow is backing the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, launching an air strike campaign in the country from September 2015 to target the same extremist groups as well as more moderate rebel groups opposed to his rule.

Putin’s forces are involved in the government battle to recapture the northern city of Aleppo, which has acted as the heart of the revolution against Assad for more than five years.

Despite agreed ceasefires, conflict has continued on both sides. There are hopes that an end to the violence could see aid delivered to civilians who have bore the brunt of the war. But Syrian forces continued their siege on Aleppo on Sunday, making the likelihood of a U.S.-Russian deal all the more distant.