Secretary of State John Kerry talks to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, during a summit on Aug. 6. File photo
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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday he had “agreed to disagree” with his Iranian and Russian counterparts on the fate of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, as 17 world powers – including Saudi Arabia, Russia and Iran – met in Vienna to try to find a political solution on the Syrian civil war.
In a joint statement after talks in Vienna, the participants said “substantial differences remain”, though they agreed it was “imperative to accelerate all diplomatic efforts to end the war”.
In the first meeting, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sat at the head of the table, the first that brought together all the main outside players in the four-year-old Syrian crisis, including bitter foes Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir was sat almost as far from his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif as was possible at the tight U-shaped table in the conference room of Vienna’s grand Imperial Hotel.
Most of the countries were represented by their foreign ministers but China sent vice foreign minister Li Baodong.