Putin and Kerry hold talks on Syria

15th December 2015, Comments 0 comments

Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomed US Secretary of State John Kerry to the Kremlin on Tuesday as the two began talks on efforts to halt the Syrian civil war.

"Together, we're looking for ways out of the most urgent crises," Putin told Kerry, adding that he was looking forward to discussing a "whole range of issues" with him.

Kerry thanked Putin for allowing his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, to work with him to push for peace talks between Bashar al-Assad's regime and Syria's armed opposition.

But neither gave any indication as to whether Russia has agreed to allow the next round of international talks on the crisis to go ahead on Friday in New York, as Washington and the United Nations hope.

"I am very happy to have the opportunity to meet and talk with you," Putin said, sitting beside Lavrov, who had met the US envoy earlier in the day.

"Minister Lavrov just now informed me in detail about both your proposals as well as some issues which require additional discussions," Putin added.

Kerry said that he hoped to address both the conflict in Syria and the crisis in Ukraine, in which Washington accuses Moscow of backing separatist rebels and has imposed sanctions on Russia.

"You had a chance to speak to President Obama in New York and then subsequently in Paris," Kerry said, sitting across from a smiling Putin at a conference table in an ornate Kremlin salon.

"Both you and President Obama have committed themselves to trying to develop as much as possible -- through Foreign Minister Lavrov and me -- an approach that can try to deal with Ukraine and deal with Syria," Kerry said.

"So I very much look forward to our discussion now and appreciate the seriousness of your commitment of time and thought about these issues," he added, before the press was ushered from the room and closed-door talks began.

© 2015 AFP

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