08:39 GMT +320 September 2017
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    Ashton Carter and Sergei Shoigu

    Russian, US Defense Chiefs Agree to Restore Military-to-Military Contacts

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    Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter have agreed to re-establish military-to-military contacts between the countries, the Russian Defense Ministry said Friday.

    "The ministers noted the restoration of military-to-military contacts and agreed to further continue consultations," Russia’s Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.

    Russian and US defense chiefs also discussed the situation in the Middle East in a phone conversation and agreed that the stances of the countries concerning the situation in the region are quite similar, Maj. Gen. Konashenkov said.

    "They agreed to further discuss mechanisms for deconfliction in Syria and the counter-ISIL campaign," the Pentagon said as quoted by Reuters. The Pentagon added that the phone conversation lasted almost an hour and described it as "constructive".

    US Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday that Russia had proposed military-to-military contacts with the United States on the situation in Syria.

    US Defense Department Press Secretary Peter Cook said Tuesday that the United States had suspended military-to-military relations with Russia over Moscow’s alleged involvement in the crisis in Ukraine adding that Defense Secretary Ashton Carter had not had any talks with Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

    Syria has been mired in civil war since 2011, with Assad’s government fighting against many opposition factions and extremist groups, including ISIL and al-Nusra. Russia, unlike many Western countries, considers Assad to be the legitimate authority in Syria, and has provided humanitarian aid and military equipment to the country.

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    Ashton Carter, Sergei Shoigu, Syria, United States, Russia
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