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Kerry: Vienna talks offer “most promising opportunity” for Syria’s future

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday that this week’s international talks on Syria in Vienna will be the best chance to save the war-torn country.

“While finding a way forward on Syria will not be easy, it’s not going to be automatic, (but) it is the most promising opportunity for a political opening we have seen,” he said during a speech on America’s Middle East policy.

“The challenge that we face in Syria today is nothing less than to chart a course out of hell,” Kerry told an audience at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

He also cited some statistics to highlight urgency to end the war on Syria: one in 20 Syrians killed or wounded; one in five now refugees; average life expectancy down 20 years.

Kerry is heading to Vienna Wednesday for a new round of talks on solving the Syria crisis.

The Secretary was expected to meet with his counterparts from a dozen countries there for a series of bilateral and multilateral talks on Thursday and Friday.

Kerry also linked the Syria issue with the war on the Islamic State (IS) militant group.

“Ultimately, to defeat Daesh, we have to end the war in Syria, and that is America’s goal,” Kerry said, using a term for the IS group based on its Arabic acronym.

The Vienna discussions this week will also see Iran’s participation for the first time. Iran has confirmed that its Foreign Minister Javad Zarif will be attending.

Russia, the United States, Saudi Arabia and Turkey will be joined by Britain, Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Lebanon and the European Union at this week’s meetings.

The United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Jordan will also be present, according to media reports.

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