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Syria peace conference to open Jan. 22 in Montreux

By The Associated Press

This article was published December 17, 2013 at 7:51 a.m.

GENEVA — The United Nations plans to precede its internationally brokered peace talks between Syria's warring sides next month with a one-day meeting of foreign ministers in the Swiss city of Montreux, officials said Tuesday.

A daylong gathering for speeches by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and more than two dozen other foreign ministers is planned for Jan. 22 at a Montreux hotel. It is to be overseen by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, with help from the Swiss government.

The session is taking place at the opposite end of Lake Geneva from the U.N. European headquarters because a luxury watch fair has taken up all the hotel rooms in Geneva for several days, Khawla Mattar, a spokesman for the U.N.-Arab League's special envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, said Tuesday.

Montreux, home of the famous jazz festival, was chosen because it has the security, facilities and hotels for such a high-profile gathering. Mattar said the foreign ministers will demonstrate "that there is global interest in solving" the Syria crisis.

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