Putin, Kerry hold “constructive” meeting in Moscow

Russian President Vladimir Putin with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Moscow on 24 March 2016 [PPIO]

Russian President Vladimir Putin with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Moscow on 24 March 2016 [PPIO]

After an exhaustive discussion session with US Secretary of State John Kerry that lasted four hours on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed hope that this visit would help narrow gaps in Moscow and Washington’s positions on Syria and Ukraine crises.

The current cessation of hostilities in Syria issue became possible largely owing to the position of US leadership, in particular that of US President Barack Obama, Putin noted in his opening remarks at the meeting with Kerry.

“We understand that what we have managed to achieve on the Syrian track has only been possible thanks to the position of the political leadership of the United States, the position of President Obama,” Putin told Kerry.

“…We have managed to find some common ground and, leaning on this, move forward to address both bilateral and international issues,” he added.

Russia has been opposed to the US-led clamour for the ouster of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad ahead of fresh elections in the war-torn country.

The latest round of Syrian peace talks ended in Geneva on Thursday. The UN has called for talks to resume on April 9.

Kerry expressed the hope that the talks could allow the two countries to find a way to “rebuild and strengthen the relationship between the US and Russia by proving that we can solve serious problems together.”

Kerry later tweeted to say talks with Putin were “constructive”.

Kerry hailed the current truce between Syrian government and the opposition forces, which became a reality thanks to US-Russia cooperation in both military and political ways.

Kerry also said Russia’s withdrawing of the main part of its military forces deployed in Syria, which started on March 15, was “a very critical decision”.

“We obviously also have some ideas about how we can together, most effectively, make progress even deeper and then begin the very serious work regarding political transition process of Syria,” Kerry said.

Kerry’s visit to Moscow is the first time this year and the third in 10 months, while his talks with Lavrov on Thursday morning lasted nearly four hours and mainly focused on issues related to Syrian and Ukrainian crises.

Putin also joked about Kerry carrying his own luggage off the plane in Moscow.

“…things must be looking blue in the United States if nobody can help the Secretary of State carry his suitcases. But the economy seems to be doing fine and there are no big cuts. Then I thought that you probably have in this case something that you couldn’t trust anyone to carry, something precious, probably money for better bargaining on key issues,” said Putin.

At the end of talks on Thursday night, Kerry said US and Russia have agreed to aim for a draft version of a new constitution for Syria by August.

A Russian special forces soldier was killed near the besieged city of Palmyra as battles raged on Thursday between Syrian army troops and ISIL fighters.

“The soldier died heroically, distracting fire onto himself after being discovered by terrorists and surrounded by them,” a Russian military spokesperson was quoted as saying in Russian media on Thursday.


TBP and Agencies

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