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    Participants of the G-20 foreign ministers' meeting pose for a group photo at the World Conference Center on February 16, 2017 in Bonn, Germany.

    G20 Foreign Ministers Discuss National, Global Concerns in Bonn

    © REUTERS/ Brendan Smialowski/Pool
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    Syrian and Ukrainian crises, relief aid and sustainable development weighed on the minds of G20 foreign ministers as they concluded two days of talks in the western German city of Bonn on Friday.

    Participants of the G-20 foreign ministers' meeting pose for a group photo at the World Conference Center on February 16, 2017 in Bonn, Germany.
    © REUTERS/ Brendan Smialowski/Pool
    BONN (Sputnik) — The gathering under Germany's chairmanship marked the first face-to-face meeting between Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and new US State Secretary Rex Tillerson.

    The annual G20 gathering on Thursday and Friday was held under Germany's chairmanship in the run-up to the Munich Security Conference that opened today in Bavaria.

    Syria, Ukraine and stability 

    The Bonn meeting was conceived as a discussion on the role of foreign policy in tackling global challenges, German Foreign Ministry spokesman Sebastian Fischer said ahead of the talks.

    The host, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel confirmed on Friday that Syria and Ukraine dominated several G20 meetings and paved the way for the anticipated Geneva talks on the Syrian peace.

    Both Gabriel and his French counterpart, Jean-Marc Ayrault, admitted today that Russia was important to Syrian reconciliation, with the French diplomat asking Moscow to put more pressure on Damascus to "stop seeing all opposition as terrorists."

    On Ukraine, Gabriel and Lavrov reiterated that the December 30 ceasefire must be upheld in Syria’s southeast. They agreed to raise this and other issues at the Normandy Four talks, scheduled to take place on the margins of the Munich conference.

    The German host also urged G20 economies to work closer together to ensure global security and stability. Gabriel said Berlin was leading by example, spending roughly $42 billion a year on aid for developing countries as well as on projects tackling climate change and migration.

    US-Russia meeting

    During their landmark meeting on Thursday, the Russian and US foreign policy chiefs agreed to move toward resolving issues of mutual interest, while minding the outstanding differences between governments in Moscow and Washington.

    "We have confirmed the existence of common interests… especially regarding the uncompromising fight against terrorism," Lavrov said in Bonn after the closed-door negotiations.

    US sanctions against Russia over its alleged role in the Ukrainian crisis were not on the agenda, although the Russian foreign minister said they both regarded the existing restrictions as an "anomaly" that hindered the dialogue between the two nations.

    He described the meeting in Bonn as "productive" and said an agreement had been made to maintain contacts, with more opportunities likely to present themselves in the coming months.

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