The United States and Russia failed on Friday to bridge differences over a plan to ease Syrian President Bashar Assad out of power, end violence and create a new government, setting the stage for the potential collapse of a key multinational conference that was to have endorsed the proposal.
On the eve of Saturday’s conference, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met one-on-one for about an hour in St.-Petersburg, Russia, but could not reach agreement on key elements of U.N. envoy Kofi Annan’s proposed plan for a Syrian political transition, officials said.
They also discussed the “serious risk” of destabilizing Jordan and the potential impact on Israel.
A senior U.S.¬ official traveling with Clinton said areas of “difference and difficulty” remain and was not optimistic that the gathering in Geneva would produce agreement. “We may get there tomorrow, we may not,” the official told reporters as Clinton left Russia for Switzerland, where she arrived early Saturday morning.
The official said Clinton and Lavrov would try to resolve differences in Geneva out of respect for Annan, the former U.N. chief whose efforts to end the Syrian crisis have thus far fallen short.
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