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    Kerry, Hagel Meet With Russian Counterparts

    Secretary of State John Kerry talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the State Department in Washington, Aug. 9, 2013.
    Secretary of State John Kerry talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the State Department in Washington, Aug. 9, 2013.
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel held meetings Friday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

    Senior U.S. administration officials say Kerry reiterated disappointment in Russia’s decision to grant asylum to wanted U.S. national security information leaker Edward Snowden. They say Kerry reinforced the U.S. view that Snowden, who is charged with three felonies, would receive a fair trial in the United States.

    At the start of the talks, Kerry was very candid about the two countries’ rocky relationship. "It is marked by both shared interests and at times colliding and conflicting interests. I think that we’re all very clear-eyed about that," said Kerry.

    Anthony Cordesman at the Center for Strategic and International Studies said that while Snowden is a high profile point of contention, Russia’s actions are not surprising.

    "Our relations with Russia aren’t good enough to overcome the history in intelligence that neither country ever returns the other sides' defectors," said Cordesman.

    While their disagreements are making headlines, U.S. officials say the tone of the meetings remained "positive and constructive."

    Speaking at the Russian embassy in Washington after the talks, Lavrov agreed. "It's clear there is no Cold War that we should expect. We shouldn't expect any aggravation."

    Lavrov also said the two countries had agreed to convene another Syrian peace conference in Geneva as soon as possible. Russia supports the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while the U.S. favors the Syrian opposition in the Syrian civil conflict.

    No firm date or plans are in place for the proposed Geneva talks, and Cordesman described the two countries' roles in the civil conflict as minimal. "For all the talk of the U.S. role, and the Russian role, 90 percent of the future of Syria is Syrian,” he said.
     
    U.S. officials say the diplomats also discussed other disputes. Russia is angry over U.S. plans for a missile defense system in Europe, and the U.S. is concerned about Russia's human rights record. The two Russian officials also showed their displeasure with Obama’s recent cancellation of a planned one-on-one meeting next month with President Vladimir Putin.

    Carla Babb

    Carla is VOA's Pentagon correspondent covering defense and international security issues. Her bylines include Ukraine, Turkey, Pakistan, Korea, Japan and Egypt.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    August 10, 2013 7:40 AM
    It is just that in USA nobody is nobody, otherwise Edward Snowden should have been treated as a nobody and his issue, a no-issue, so that the fragile relationship with Russia can continue. The world knows that there is no love lost between the two superpowers(?). Well America is superpower for all the bad things in the world including destructive freedoms and liberties, while Russia (or the former USSR) is neither here nor there - think that makes it a superpower also as in lacking definition. Otherwise why does a country that does not encourage freedom of expression and other liberties now honor someone who thinks that nothing should be hidden for any reason, even for security purposes? It's all the enigma that determines the sharing of superpower status between the two countries. If we rate them by the power of their army, Russia is stronger because its army literally CRUSHES any enemy it faces, while the USA army employs cosmetic kid gloves. Which is why all the places they have fought a war still remain at war without end. Relations between the two countries have never been good and NEVER will, with each one trying to outwit the other perpetually. That is not how to have good relations. Kerry was right to point it out, but should we see Russia having the upper hand now that it has Edward Snowden - the world renowned secret leaker? The question though now is, whose secret is he going to leak now - that of the USA or of the USSR (Russia). Methinks Russia is the one in trouble right now.

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