The U.S., Russia and other members of the 17-nation International Syria Support Group are holding a series of talks on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference. Censor.NET reports citing Voice of America.
A focal point for the group is the Russian proposal for a cease-fire in Syria, where a Russian-backed Syrian offensive in Aleppo has worsened a humanitarian crisis by forcing thousands of civilians to flee towards the Turkish border.
"We are ready to discuss the modalities of the ceasefire," said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov, according to the Tass news agency. Western media reports said the proposal called for a March 1 cease-fire.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner said he was not aware of a specific date for the Russian proposal but stressed "I think our preference would be for an immediate cease-fire."
The first round of proximity talks between the Syrian government and opposition stalled earlier this month, partly due to opposition complaints about the Russian-backed Syrian government's relentless bombing campaign in Aleppo.
In spite of ongoing criticism of the Syrian and Russian airstrikes against non-Islamic State targets, European diplomats have told VOA that they are skeptical of the Russian offer of a ceasefire.
"This is straight out of the Kremlin's playbook," said a senior European Union diplomat. "Look at Ukraine, ceasefires, offers of solutions but meanwhile on the battlefield a continued pressure."
A Turkish official told VOA that Russia might be putting forward a cease-fire plan now because it had completed a phase of their military operations in Aleppo.
"Now the can focus on re-focusing and preparing for the next stage - Idlib," the official said.
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