Moscow, December 16, 2015
The three-hour meeting of Russian President Vladimir Putin and US Secretary of State John Kerry in Moscow on Tuesday resulted in no breakthroughs in bilateral ties but the sides discussed in detail and brought closer their positions on the settlement in Syria and Ukraine and the fight against terrorism.
After talks, Kerry said the United States is not seeking to isolate Russia but wants to cooperate with Moscow in the fight against terrorism and to jointly solve the Syrian problems.
Kerry had a rather busy day on Tuesday as he held talks with Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, was received by the Russian president and took a stroll around Arbat, a pedestrian street in the historical center of Moscow, where he talked to Russians. The US top diplomat also bought souvenirs in one of the numerous shops. Spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Moscow William Stevens tweeted that "Secretary Kerry offered his holiday wishes to some folks on Arbat today."
At the meeting in the Kremlin, the Russian president said Moscow sees how many efforts the US Secretary of State is making "to settle a number of very acute problems."
"We need more time to follow you, your movements," Putin said smiling. "I see you need to get enough sleep." However, after these words Kerry, the Russian leader, the Russian foreign minister and the members of two delegations had talks for more than three hours.
The Syrian crisis was one of the major issues at talks in the Kremlin. "Our position is that all must make their contribution both in the anti-terrorist efforts and in promoting the political process. But we prefer to do it in a collective format, a format that was formed in Vienna and that involves all key players who can influence this or that way various conflicting parties in Syria, a format that was approved by the United Nations Security Council in a recent resolution," Lavrov said after the talks.
Lavrov also said Russia and the United States have confirmed the agreements on settlement in Syria reached as part of the Vienna meetings.
The Russian foreign minister added that Syria’s opposition delegation should be representative and should be ready to negotiate constructively with the Syrian government delegation along the principles approved by the International Syria Support Group.
Kerry said Moscow and Washington can do a lot together to resolve the Syrian crisis. He said the Vienna-1 talks and the Vienna-2 talks were a good beginning "opening up possibilities."
The US Secretary of State thanked Putin for hospitality and the efforts the Russian foreign minister and his team are doing for cooperation with the US.
Kerry made a traditional statement that Syrian President Bashar Assad should leave, but said at talks the sides focused on the political process, not on the Syrian leader’s fate.
Thanks to the efforts of Russia, the US and others the Syrian settlement is no longer at an impasse. To follow up a success, the sides agreed to convene a meeting on Syria in New York on December 18 to adopt the UN Security Council resolution and confirm the agreements reached in Vienna on October 30 and November 14, Lavrov said.
Terrorism dangeros for all
Russia and the US are sure that joint efforts are needed to fight against terrorism and try to bring closer their positions on the means of this struggle.
"We confirmed today the accords reached between the Russian and US military and agreements concerning the US-led coalition on the fight against the Islamic State," Lavrov said. The sides agreed on "further steps that can make the fight against terrorism more efficient."
The sides agreed to continue the work that is in a rather advanced stage on compiling a single list of terrorist organizations, Lavrov said. Kerry said the US and Russia have brought their positions closer on the list of terrorist groups. All the participants of talks on Syria share the opinion that the IS and Jabhat al-Nusra are terrorists, he said.
At talks in the Kremlin, the sides also discussed the Ukrainian conflict. Russia and the US confirmed support for the Minsk agreements on Ukraine, Lavrov said after the meeting.
"The Russian Federation and the United States, in development of agreements that were reached in principle between Presidents Putin and Obama, confirm their support for the Minsk Agreements, support for the Normandy format and will use their capabilities to achieve full implementation of the Minsk Agreements," Lavrov said.
"There are specific ideas on how to promote that in the most efficient way. We hope to remain in contact with our American colleagues," he said.
Kerry said the sooner the Minsk agreements are implemented in full, the better the sanctions of the US and the EU against Russia will be rolled back. He said steps are needed to be taken for the implementation of the agreements and joint efforts should be continued to resolve the conflict in Ukraine.
Washington not isolating Russia
Kerry told reporters after meeting with the Russian president that Washington is not pursuing a policy aimed at isolating Moscow. "We do not seek to isolate Russia," he stressed, reminding that the words of US President Barack Obama on Russia’s isolation came amid the situation in Crimea.
When the US and Russia work together, this meets the interests of the whole world, he said, adding that the current cooperation of the countries’ leaders is a "sign of maturity."