12:11 GMT +3 hours23 July 2016
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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov meets with his US counterpart John Kerry

Kerry Leaves Moscow With 'Better Understanding' of Putin’s Decisions

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Following high-profile meetings in Moscow, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held a joint news conference on Thursday night.

Both diplomats agreed on the importance of strengthening bilateral relations between Washington and Moscow.

Speaking on Syria, Kerry and Lavrov also agreed to continue to coordinate efforts in Syria to prevent ceasefire violations.

"Thanks to our cooperation on such a basis it was possible to make serious progress in overcoming the Syrian crisis. Thanks to the Russian-American initiative approved by presidents [Vladimir] Putin and [Barack] Obama, a mechanism of international support for Syrian reconciliation was formed — the so-called Syria Support Group," Kerry said.

"Today we’ve agreed to build up on the March 14 telephone conversation between the [US and Russian] presidents and to continue coordinating actions in order to secure the cessation of hostilities regime, to curb violations of this regime," Lavrov added.

For the time being, the ceasefire appears to be effective.

"The cessation of hostilities has largely held, not entirely," Kerry said. "The overall level of bombing and of shelling has decreased sharply."

To ensure the implementation of UN resolutions on Syria, Washington and Moscow agreed to facilitate direct talks between Damascus and opposition groups.

They also agreed to end the indiscriminate use of weapons.

"We agreed today to build on recent gains by taking immediate steps to reinforce the cessation of hostilities, including by working to end the use of any indiscriminate weapons, to halt attempts by either side to seize new territory, and to finalize a common understanding for how this cessation can be institutionalized," Kerry said.

Kerry stressed that all parties in the Syrian conflict must intensify efforts to release prisoners.

"We agreed that the [Syrian] regime and opposition need to begin releasing detainees and they need to begin as soon as possible, starting with those who are the most vulnerable."

The Russian Foreign Minister criticized preconditions set by the opposition that exclude Kurdish groups from the peace talks.

Further details on Syria’s political transition will be hammered out during the next round of talks in Geneva.

"We agreed that the next steps in the Geneva talks is to immediately take up the details of the political transition [in Syria], the best and perhaps the only way of ending the war," Kerry said.

The meetings helped Secretary Kerry understand Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to pull air groups out of Syria.

"It’s fair to say that today we have a better understanding of the decisions made by Russian President Vladimir Putin and recognize which path we should take going forward," Kerry said. "We have before us a long path, but I’m leaving with a better understanding of what steps we need to implement with our partners."

For Kerry, this week’s terrorist attacks in Brussels prove the urgent need to quickly resolve the Syrian crisis.

"They [the attacks] are a violent reminder of the essential task at hand that brought us here today: to resolve the conflict in Syria and to focus all of our attention on defeating and destroying Daesh," he said.

On Ukraine, both the US and Russia agree that the Minsk Accords must be fully implemented.

"We have indeed pledged to ensure that Donbas, that the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Luhansk [DPR and LPR], implement what they and their representatives signed under in Minsk," Lavrov said.

Once fully implemented, Kerry said the US will roll back sanctions on Russia.

Moscow assured Washington that the Russian government is closely monitoring the health of Ukrainian national Nadiya Savchenko.

"We have confirmed that Savchenko’s health condition, that many try to speculate on, presents no concerns," Lavrov said. "She is under constant monitoring of Russian doctors."

On North Korea, both countries agreed that Pyongyang’s recent nuclear and ballistic missile tests should not be used as a pretext to a military buildup on the Korean peninsula.

Kerry and Lavrov also discussed issues of equality.

"From our sides we confirmed that we never shut ourselves off or evaded interaction," Lavrov said. "We are always ready to cooperate on the basis of equality, on the basis of respect of each other’s interests."

The diplomats also discussed jailed Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko.

"His health is an issue that has been raised," Kerry said. "I made it clear today to Foreign Minister Lavrov, who raised the issue with me, that if he will sign a release with respect to his medical records they would be made public and people can make any judgement they want about his treatment."

Overall, Kerry called the discussions "very constructive."

Related:
Ukraine Conflict May Escalate Again at Any Moment
Ukraine Crisis May Aggravate Over Political Settlement Delay
Minsk Preparing to Host Meeting of Contact Group on Ukraine
Tags:
Ukraine crisis, Syrian conflict, Vladimir Putin, Sergei Lavrov, John Kerry, Ukraine, Syria, Russia, United States
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  • I'd trust Kerry as far as I could throw him! Putin and Lavrov both know this.
    The way to defeat ISIS: Washington needs to stop paying the mercenaries they hired!
  • Dirk Ramsey
    The only reason the Kerry, or any other western politician dose not understand Putin is they have never had to deal with someone who dose exactly what they say they are going to do.
  • support
    I wonder what was in Kerry's briefcase.
  • in reply tolianasammartino(Show commentHide comment)
    lianasammartino, Kerry knows the US has painted itself into the corner on every issue, of course he is unhappy. Mr Lavrov is just tired of listening to Kerry whine about it.
  • kasivasantha
    Mr.Putin as president of Russia will be working for the welfare and general improvement of the people and security of Russia.Mr.Obama will be working to control other countries and order them to do what US wants..
  • kasivasantha
    The Americans have poor memory of ancient history.Where are the kingdoms of ROME,Macedonian Alexander,Genghis khans ,the Pharaohs, the Asoka and the Gupta,the Cholas of India, the ghazni and sultans from Persia and Arabia and the Incas of Americas.
  • Anton KOMAROV
    irrelevant what Kerry says the man is an idiot working for a lame Duck president...so what?
  • ptcjm
    According to this statement of getting rid of evil, where is the MH17 evidence? tass.ru/en/world
  • Ann
    "to halt attempts by either side to seize new territory" - What? they have no right keeping Syria from regaining control of it's own land.
  • Annin reply todvdgrg09(Show commentHide comment)
    dvdgrg09, Don't believe it now, either. The US politicians say anything they have to, then they break their word when it suits them. Russia shouldn't buy a word of it - it's a trick. Wait and see.
  • Annin reply topatkelly1595(Show commentHide comment)
    patkelly1595, the US is stalling for time, time for the CIA to get into Syria and set up to take control of the coming elections. If given time, they will get their puppet in Syria, and it will be too late for anyone to do anything about it. This is all a distraction. All of it. That's the only reason the US is pretending to participate in this charade. TIME. Time to do what they came for.
  • Annin reply to (Show commentHide comment)
    alvaro.marfan, The US is not interested in being a "peace broker" in the ME. Never was and never will be, until THEY are in control of it all.
  • Annin reply toptcjm(Show commentHide comment)
    ptcjm, Do you have a link to this, please??
  • Annin reply tosupport(Show commentHide comment)
    support, Extra toilet paper and a crying towel?
  • Annin reply toAnton KOMAROV(Show commentHide comment)
    Anton KOMAROV, Unfortunately, we can't change the pentagon neocons with the president. They're like ticks - they spend all day sucking the blood of their victims, and you have to kill them to get rid of them.
  • dvdgrg09in reply toAnn(Show commentHide comment)
    Ann, I think Russia has the advantage in this chess game, and I think they know they are playing against pigeons, but the pigeons may be starting to look at the board because they see no other way out of the game. They are stuck in an evil place.
  • Anton KOMAROVin reply toAnn(Show commentHide comment)
    Ann, So are we facing only one option?....Russia exist in a world which have rules, good or bad those rules exists that is why I hope that the next team in washington will be more competent....those rules of diplomacy are extremely boring and their ballet tedious but it is a game that has rule the international arena during eons and has decided the way we live on this planet...the important thing for Russia is to hold the moral ground and be extremely vigillant..one thing is also to take in consideration what are the real deals behind the scenes. Putin is a tough player and not a fool, for him to trust the west like he did before will take a miracle. Like Lavrov said Russia has endlessly saved Europe from Europe itself and he said too that he is not paid to be optimistic..What President Putin said about Ukraine and Syria was that it was for the people of those two countries to decide the fate of their nations applies also for the United States...those tick sucking blood forget about their boss, who are their boss?...it is not The millitaro-industrial complex, it is not the oil Barons or oligarchs of any sort neither any religious beleif...their boss are the people and citizens of the United States! They forgot that reality and it is time for the Boss to remind the ticks who they are...Will that be easy , oh not it will not be! But was it easy for Russia to return from the gates of hell after the explosion of the USSR?...from the decision of the Boss will depends the survival of the US
  • Right-o.
  • support
    Ann, that too lol but I think it was empty otherwise when he arrived. He probably asked President Putin where he could get decent caviar in uptown Moscow at a decent price :)

    Two things Mr. Kerry is compensating for which all other diplomats understand and do not harp upon:

    1. He is trying to de-bug and fix the mess Hillary made of the US State Department; and
    2. He is functionally without the State Department's separate intelligence service at his beck and call so he is "flying blind." Even a Talleyrand or Molotov would seem a flustered buffoon without the services of reliable intelligence counsel.

    Why is this so? Firstly, this is a lame-duck regime so the permanent help of the State Department (again, it is separate from the regular Federal civil service) is stonewalling him against the possibility of Hillary becoming President. Secondly there is another faction keeping shtum in preparation for the possibility of a Republican victory in November.

    The regime transition process is difficult for this and other reasons but the main one is that neither the State Department nor its intelligence service should be so independent IMO. Perhaps not unfortunately that independence is constitutionally guaranteed as a safeguard against a palace coup situation unfolding: this is why the movies Seven Days in May and The Manchurian Candidate are simply entertainments. In practice such scenarios unfolding are impossibilities.
  • Annin reply toAnton KOMAROV(Show commentHide comment)
    Anton KOMAROV, I live here, and I can say with all due confidence that PUTIN SHOULD NOT TRUST THIS COUNTRY. It's not just the president, There are forces at work that we cannot see in this govt, and most of it is anti-American. Without placing any blame directly, this govt, no matter what president, cannot be trusted until it has EARNED Russia's trust. And that should take a long time and a lot of actions to prove.

    As for "neither the State Department nor its intelligence service should be so independent" I totally agree. One country. One govt. That is accountability, which is probably the real reason ours is fashioned as it is. This way when a blunder happens (or maybe it wasn't a blunder), they can toss the ball around in circles, until the sheep lose track of it.
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