U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov discussed cease-fire zones for Syria during talks in Paris Monday. According to Kerry, there was a possibility of trying to encourage a localized cease-fire in the northern city of Aleppo. Additionally, Lavrov mentioned that the Syrian government had indicated it might allow access for humanitarian aid to areas under siege, such as East Ghouta.

U.N. humanitarian affairs chief Valerie Amos said she had spoken to the government to obtain humanitarian access to such communities that have been cut off due to fighting, some for over a year.  Lavrov additionally stated that Iran and Saudi Arabia should participate in the upcoming peace conference set for January 22 in Switzerland. Kerry said Iran would be “welcome” if it agrees to President Bashar al-Assad’s transition from power. At a “Friends of Syria” meeting in Paris, the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Egypt, and Jordan issued a joint statement urging the opposition Syrian National Coalition (SNC) to attend the peace talks. Kerry said, “I am confident personally that the Syrian opposition will come to Geneva,” after meeting with SNC leader Ahmad Jarba. The coalition said it would decide on its participation on January 17.