- Associated Press - Friday, February 12, 2016

MUNICH (AP) - Jordan’s King Abdullah, Iraq’s prime minister and Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister are among those expected at a conference opening in southern Germany, after diplomats agreed to work toward a temporary “cessation of hostilities” in Syria’s civil war.

The Munich Security Conference, an annual gathering of foreign and defense policy leaders, runs Friday through Sunday. Syria is expected to loom large at this year’s event, which also features U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, among others.

Abdullah, whose country borders Syria and is home to large numbers of Syrian refugees, was to address the meeting Friday. He will be joined by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir. Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, also is expected to speak.

Ahead of the conference, diplomats agreed early Friday to seek a temporary “cessation of hostilities” in Syria’s civil war within a week, although efforts to secure a lasting cease-fire fell short. The meeting of the International Syria Support Group brought together foreign ministers from countries in the region and beyond with interests, in many cases conflicting ones, in the country’s crisis - including the U.S., Russia, Iran and Saudi Arabia.

The ministers also sealed an agreement to “accelerate and expand” deliveries of humanitarian aid to besieged Syrian communities beginning this week.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the deal and stressed that “we have to stay focused on the fight against ISIL,” using an acronym for the Islamic State group.

“We will welcome a more constructive role of Russia in the fight against ISIL,” Stoltenberg said, adding that Russian air strikes against opposition groups have “undermined the efforts to reach a negotiated political solution.”

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