U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held lengthy talks Tuesday in Berlin, seeking common ground on how to deal with the civil war in Syria and other issues of contention.
Lavrov called on the United States to press the Syrian opposition to hold direct talks with Damascus, saying that Syrians must resolve their problems by themselves.
While visiting London on Monday, Kerry said the Syrian opposition, which has been looking for more international support, is not going to be left dangling in the wind. London was the first stop on his tour of Europe and the Middle East, his first foreign trip since taking over the U.S. State Department.
Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and Qatar crown prince, Sheik Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, start their meeting at the Prince's Sea Palace residence in Doha, Qatar, March 5, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is met by Qatari Chief of Protocol Abdullah Fakhroo and Qatari Ambassador to the U.S. Mohamed al-Rumaihi at Doha International Airport, March 5, 2013.
The red carpet is rolled up after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry boarded his plane to leave Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on his way to the final destination of Qatar, March 5, 2013.
Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan invites U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to pose with him for a photograph before their dinner meeting at the Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, March 4, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry walks with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal on arrival in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, March 3, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi at the Presidential Palace in Cairo, Egypt, March 3, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry attends an Antikabir Wreath Laying ceremony at the Tomb of Ataturk in Ankara, Turkey, March 2, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry holds a news conference with Syrian National Coalition Chairman Mouaz al-Khatib and Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi at Villa Madama in Rome, Feb. 28, 2013.
A peace activist protests at the end of statements given by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Syrian National Coalition President Mouaz al-Khatib at Villa Madama in Rome, Feb. 28, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with French President Francois Hollande at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Feb. 27, 2013.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov gestures while standing with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Berlin, Germany, Feb. 26, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and German Chancellor Angela Merkel speak to the media at the Chancellery in Berlin, Feb. 26, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with the children of U.S. embassy staff in Berlin, Feb. 26, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at a news conference with British Foreign Secretary William Hague in London, Feb. 25, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visits with the traveling media aboard a plane en route to London on his inaugural trip as secretary, Feb. 24, 2013.
Lavrov described his talks with Kerry as constructive. He said in addition to Syria, the two discussed events in other Arab countries, the Middle East and Afghanistan, and cooperation on the Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs.
"The discussion was to my mind constructive and in the spirit of partnership, without of course ignoring the questions which are irritating these relations, including the recently appearing [U.S.] ''Magnitsky law," or the problem of the attitude in the United States towards adopted Russian children," he said. "Without closing our eyes to the problems, we are trying to solve them and move on.''
The so-called Magnitsky Act bans U.S. travel for Russian politicians and businessmen linked to human rights abuses.
Washington and Moscow are also at odds over U.S. plans to build a missile defense system in Europe, which Russia says undermines its own security.
The Syrian conflict has so far cost close to 70,000 lives, according to a United Nations estimate.
Russia is one of few world powers to retain its ties to the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while the United States and its allies have been pushing for the strongman to step down.
Kerry is also set to meet with leaders in France, Italy, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.