Laying the groundwork for planned Syrian peace talks, Secretary of State John Kerry is in Moscow for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov.
Mr Kerry’s second visit to Russian Federation this year for meetings with President Vladimir Putin and Mr Lavrov, following eight hours of talks in Sochi in May, comes as the United States seeks agreement for a meeting on Friday in NY to pursue efforts for a cease-fire and an interim power-sharing government in Syria.
The meeting of the Russian Foreign Minister and the US Secretary of State has started in Moscow.
Mr Kerry will try to prepare the ground for an global meeting on Syria mooted for later this week.
Lavrov noted “outstanding issues” on steps ahead in the Syrian political transition that is supposed to bring representatives of President Bashar Assad’s government together with the opposition for negotiations by early January.
Kerry said “nothing would please us more than to resolve the differences on Ukraine” but there was little sign of a convergence.
Asked Tuesday about the USA request, von der Leyen told public broadcaster ARD that “I’m going to write back and say, of course, we’re on your side, you know that, in the fight against the Islamic State”.
Assad’s future and his potential role in the political transition will be prime topics of Kerry’s conversation at today’s talks in Moscow.
Ahead of the talks, the Russian foreign ministry attacked USA policy, accusing Washington of “dividing terrorists into good and bad ones”. The Kremlin says the Syrian people, and not external powers, should decide Assad’s political fate. However, he described the Syrian opposition’s demand that Assad must leave as soon as peace talks begin as a “nonstarting position, obviously”. The U.S. and its European allies have imposed sanctions on Russian Federation for its continued support for separatists in the east.
“I look forward to making real progress”, Kerry said before his meeting with Lavrov, which was followed by a lunch. However, US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said there were no preconditions to having this meeting.
Washington’s attempts to present high-profile talks between Lavrov and Kerry as containment of Russian Federation were met with a negative reaction in Moscow.
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