US Secretary of State John Kerry    © Photo: The Voice of Russia

Moscow and Washington have agreed to hold an international conference on Syria later this month. The news comes following US Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Moscow.

Long talks between Mr. Kerry and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin resulted in both sides confirming that their positions on Syria ‘never differed a lot.’ Commenting on Russia-US bilateral ties, Mr. Kerry stressed that the current situation on international political scene demands from both Moscow and Washington the same level of partnership like it was during WW II.

John Kerry’s first visit to Moscow since becoming Secretary of State coincided with the eve of Victory Day celebrations, which certainly influenced the tone of the negotiations. Before the meeting with Putin Mr. Kerry had a walk on Red Square where he talked to some WW II veterans and took part in a memorial ceremony. Mr. Kerry became the first US Secretary of State who laid a wreath at the Tomb of Unknown Soldier in the Alexandrovsky Garden. 

During the talks with Mr. Putin John Kerry said that the US and Russia need to join efforts again. He mentioned successful cooperation between Russian and American experts on the Boston Marathon attacks investigation. Mr. Kerry stressed that no difficulties should overshadow what has already been achieved.

 

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The sides agreed to cooperate on peaceful settlement in Syria. Ahead of his visit to Moscow Mr. Kerry said that the issue would dominate the agenda. Previously, State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell emphasized that the two countries did not see eye to eye on the issue. But while in Moscow, Mr. Kerry said that Russia and US shared enough common ground on Syria. After the talks between Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov ended about midnight, it became clear that the sides achieved a breakthrough decision to work together to implement the Geneva Communiqué, Mr. Lavrov said.

“Russia and US will work to bring the Assad regime and the opposition together for talks aimed at finding a political solution to the crisis. We have also agreed to hold an international conference in late May to build on a transition plan set out last year in Geneva. Russia and US confirmed their intention to respect Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Mr. Kerry said that the talks in Moscow allowed both sides to find a common path based on the principles outlined in the Geneva Communiqué. When he was asked to comment on US draft law on arms supplies to Syrian rebels, Mr. Kerry declined to answer directly…

 

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After the talks were over, it turned out that Russia had one more reason to celebrate: its national hockey team defeated Americans 5:3. On learning the news Sergei Lavrov congratulated his counterpart. Mr. Kerry responded jokingly saying “I thought we have turned over a new leaf in our relations and you are telling me such things!” The two ministers then shook hands and went to have supper. Another high-level meeting between Russia and US is scheduled for June when President Putin is scheduled to meet Barack Obama on the sidelines of the G8 summit in Ireland.