Kerry to meet Lavrov, Putin over Syria, Ukraine

US Secretary of State Kerry to visit Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, President Putin to talk about political transition in Syria, peace process in Ukraine

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

US Secretary of State John Kerry speaks to reporters following a meeting with France's foreign minister on the sidelines of the COP 21 United Nations conference on climate change, on December 11, 2015 in Le Bourget, on the outskirts of Paris.

US officials announced on Friday that US Secretary of State John Kerry will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday in Moscow.

Main topic of Kerry’s diplomatic mission will be the latest situation in Syria, Ukraine and to keep the fragile peace process on track.

But the Kremlin has not confirmed the visit yet. "John Kerry is coming here on the invitation of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. His partner in the talks will be Russia's foreign minister," said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

"We do not exclude the possibility of such a meeting when Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Secretary of State Kerry inform President Putin about their talks,” he added.

Kerry will also attend talks on the Syrian crisis in Paris on Monday. "They will discuss ongoing efforts to achieve a political transition in Syria," US State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner said.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the first item on Kerry's agenda is also President Barack Obama's top concern, which is "Russia's continued resistance to following through on their commitment to implement the Minsk (ceasefire) agreement, that continuing to provide support and encouragement to Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine is destabilizing that country and undermining their territorial integrity."

In the meeting, Russia will have a chance to protest the sanctions that is imposed on its economy by the western countries after annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region.

The meeting will also discuss differences between Russian and US approaches to the fight against DAESH.

The US repeatedly accuses Moscow of striking legitimate opposition movements instead of DAESH.

During his press brief, Earnest said that Kerry will repeat the American view that "Russia should focus their efforts on ISIL and seek to integrate their efforts into the broader international coalition that's led by the United States to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL [DAESH]."

The Kremlin insists its ally in Damascus has the sole right to authorise foreign military intervention against the opposition fighters and that US bombing, violates Syrian sovereignty.

The US and Russia are main sponsors of the international mediation to end the Syrian war through the International Syrian Support Group. The 17-nation group is planning to meet in New York under United Nation auspices on December 18.

Meanwhile, Syrian opposition factions met in Riyadh on Thursday in a bid to reach common ground in their fight against Bashar al Assad's regime.

Opposition groups agreed to hold talks with regime representatives for a political solution to the conflict, but insisted that Assad must step down immediately at the start of the political transition process, which is planned to start on January 1.

TRTWorld and agencies