Kerry Uses Davos Meetings to Focus On Syria Peace Talks
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is meeting Thursday with the U.N. special envoy for Syria, in the latest attempt to resolve disagreements between world powers that are threatening to delay international peace talks on Syria's future.
Kerry and Staffan de Mistura, who are meeting on the sidelines of the Davos economic forum in Switzerland, have expressed hope the U.N.-mediated negotiations on Syria's political transition can start, as planned, on Monday.
Mistura acknowledged Wednesday that may not happen. "I believe we can start the talks, perhaps not the 25th, but we need to maintain pressure, we need to maintain momentum," he told CNN.
There is widespread disagreement over which opposition groups should take part in the talks, and officials say the meetings next week cannot proceed until there is a mutually acceptable list of which factions will take part.
Kerry met Wednesday with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov of Russia, a key ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Afterwards, Lavrov said Moscow has "no intention" to postpone the negotiations until next month.
The U.N. has said it will not issue invitations to the talks until the disagreement over rebel representatives has been resolved.
A State Department spokesman said it would not be "the end of the world" if the talks were delayed by a day or two.
Kerry's trip to the Davos World Economic Forum is the first step on a five-nation tour that also will take him through the Middle East and Asia.
The annual forum pairs heads of state and government with executives from some of the world's leading companies. Kerry will address the forum on Friday.
Later Thursday, Kerry will meet with other leaders, including Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
British Judge: Putin 'Probably Approved' Litvinenko's Killing
A British judge said Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin "probably approved" a plan to poison ex-KBG agent Alexander Litvinenko.
Litvinenko died nearly 10 years ago after drinking a cup of tea that judge Robert Owen said was laced with the rare radioactive isotope polonium-210. From his death bed, Litvinenko accused Putin of ordering his assassination.
In a long-awaited report, Owen said Dmitry Kovtun and Andrei Lugovoi, two Russian former KGB agents, carried out the killing and probably did so under the direction of Russia's FSB security service.
The two men confirmed meeting with Litvinenko in London on several occasions, including at the time of the suspected poisoning, but deny any involvement in his death. Russia has refused to extradite them.
After the report's release Thursday, Russia's Interfax news agency quoted Lugovoi as calling the British inquiry nonsense and saying it was politically motivated.