‘We see Syria fundamentally very similarly’ – Kerry after talks with Putin, Lavrov

Russia and the US have agreed on a number of ‘critical’ issues, particularly with regard to Syria, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said following talks in Moscow.

The US stands ready to work with Russia,” Kerry told journalists after meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday. He added that the two countries’ officials had had “a productive day” and the discussions had been “constructive.”

“Despite our countries’ differences, we demonstrated that when the United States and Russia pull together in the same direction, progress can be made,” Kerry said.

Calling the effort “good diplomacy,” the top US diplomat said that the whole global community benefits from such cooperation.

Moscow and Washington confirmed their previous agreements to work together to fight “the evil” of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in Syria, Lavrov told journalists, adding that some “practical steps” to advance this effort had been agreed upon at the meeting.

We confirmed the agreements reached by the Russian and US militaries, including the agreements that also apply to the US-led coalition working against ISIL, and in practical terms agreed on some further steps which will help make our parallel work more coordinated and effective,” Russian foreign minister said.

“We see Syria fundamentally very similarly, we want the same outcomes, we see the same dangers, we understand the same challenges,” Kerry said. He added that the two nations have been “honest with differences,” but in general agree that the crisis in the Middle Eastern country “requires political process.”

Russia and the United States agree that you can’t defeat Daesh without also deescalating the fight in Syria,” the Secretary of State said, adding that both Moscow and Washington are “focused on political process” and that “Syrians will be making decisions on the future of Syria.”

Kerry also said that Moscow and Washington have found “common ground” on which opposition groups should participate in the Syrian peace talks.

Meanwhile, Lavrov has confirmed that a meeting of world powers on Syria penciled in for New York on Friday would go ahead.

A project for a resolution on Syria is expected to be ready for presentation to the UN Security Council after Friday’s meeting, Lavrov said.

We met here today not as Russia and the US behind the back of other members of the international group on Syrian support, but as co-chairs of this group,” Lavrov said, adding that only an “inclusive format” and the collective efforts of all the members of the Syria group can lead to success in solving the crisis in the region.

Russia and the US are seeking solutions to the most critical crises together, Putin said earlier at the start of the meeting, adding that he “is happy for the opportunity to meet and talk.

“Today you’ve had comprehensive talks at Russia’s Foreign Ministry,” Putin said to Kerry, referring to an earlier meeting with Lavrov. “Minister Lavrov has reported to me in detail on your proposals and on some issues that require additional discussions. I’m very happy with the opportunity to meet with you and talk.”