The United States and Russia agree on "some fundamental principles" for Syria, US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday, adding that he plans to meet again with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday.
"There was agreement that Syria should be a unified country, united, that it needs to be secular, that ISIL [ISIS] needs to be taken on, and that there needs to be a managed transition," Kerry told MSNBC in a television interview, adding that differences remained on what the outcome of such a transition would be.
In the first day of UN meetings both Obama’s and Putin’s main speeches focused on the possible future of Bashar al Assad. Putin and Obama clearly agreed on a diplomatic solution to end Syrian civil war that has so far caused the deaths of more than 240,000 people.
"The United States is prepared to work with any nation, including Russia and Iran, to resolve the conflict," Obama said during his speech at the first day of the 70th UN General Assembly.
’’But we must recognize that there cannot be, after so much bloodshed, so much carnage, a return to the prewar status quo," he added.
Obama rejected the argument that authoritarianism is the only way to counter groups like ISIS.
He said, "In accordance with this logic, we should support tyrants like Bashar al-Assad, who drops barrel bombs to massacre innocent children, because the alternative is surely worse."
Contrary to Obama, Russian leader Putin said Assad should be involved to end the conflict in a diplomatic way and defeat ISIS militants.
Putin said that "No one but Assad's forces are truly fighting IS and other terrorist groups in Syria," while Obama said that there could be no return to the pre-civil war status quo.
Secretary of State John Kerry hosted talks with the foreign ministers of Turkey, Britain, France, Germany, Saudi Arabia and Jordan to discuss Syria.
Spokesman John Kirby said that they "discussed ideas for building renewed and credible diplomatic momentum that could bring an end to the conflict and allow Syrians to chart a peaceful future without Assad."