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UN head discusses Syrian crisis with Russian minister

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has discussed the escalating humanitarian crisis and increasing sectarian violence in Syria with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said the U.N. chief underscored the need to find a political solution to the 2 1/2-year Syria conflict and to urgently renew momentum for a new Geneva conference to try to get the government and opposition to agree on a transitional government.

He said the secretary-general told Lavrov at a working dinner Thursday that the U.N. would do "its utmost" to support Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. They also discussed Lebanon, Afghanistan, the broader Middle East and North Africa, he said.

The Syrian crisis is also likely to highlight Lavrov's meeting in Washington Friday with Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.