News / Middle East

    US, Russia Push for New Syrian Constitution by August

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, right, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry attend a news conference at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, March 24, 2016.
    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, right, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry attend a news conference at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, March 24, 2016.
    Cindy Saine

    The United States and Russia are calling for the drafting of a new Syrian constitution by August. They have also agreed to push both the Syrian government and the opposition to free all political prisoners, especially those who are vulnerable.  

    After a four hour meeting in Moscow on Thursday, Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed that U.S.-Russian cooperation had been instrumental in achieving an unexpectedly successful cessation of hostilities in war-torn Syria. Kerry said that he was aware of violations of the cease-fire but that they were being carefully monitored.

    Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held a late-night joint press conference at the Kremlin after Thursday's lengthy talks, and there were some awkward moments. Some stark disagreements became apparent, but both Kerry and Lavrov assured reporters that Washington and Moscow were committed to establishing a more permanent peace in Syria, increasing the flow of humanitarian aid and launching a political transition.

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry makes a point during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, March 24, 2016.
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry makes a point during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, March 24, 2016.

    Asked by a U.S. reporter at the news conference whether he thought America was a partner in fighting terrorism or a part of the problem, Lavrov said he thought the U.S. helped to create conditions conducive to terrorism in Afghanistan, Libya and parts of the Middle East. Lavrov said some current politicians in America have been saying the same thing.

    For his part, Kerry condemned five years of "unimaginable" carnage by Russia’s close ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and said Putin had now decided to withdraw some Russian forces because he had re-established Assad’s hold on power with the intervention. Kerry added that it was reprehensible that the Syrian regime was stealing medical supplies out of relief shipments.

    Kerry also called on Russia to release jailed Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko, sentenced by a Russian court to 22 years in prison this week. Lavrov did not make any pledge to do so.

    Scope of talks

    Kerry and Lavrov said the talks with Putin were wide-ranging, with Syria being the dominant issue, but with Ukraine, Yemen, Libya, North Korea and other topics also being discussed.

    On Ukraine, Kerry said the U.S. was holding firm on its position on the sovereignty of the Ukrainian people and of Crimea, which Russia annexed two years ago. Both men backed the implementation of the Minsk agreements, calling for a political solution to end the fighting in eastern Ukraine.

    Kerry, Putin and Lavrov discussed Tuesday’s terrorist attacks in Brussels. Kerry is headed to Brussels early Friday to demonstrate that America stands with the people of Belgium against terrorists.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin, accompanied by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, second from right, speaks during a meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, March 24, 2016.
    Russian President Vladimir Putin, accompanied by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, second from right, speaks during a meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, March 24, 2016.

    During short remarks before their talks began, Putin welcomed Kerry with praise for U.S. leadership in Syria: "We are aware that the groundwork we have on Syria has only been possible by the supreme political leadership of the United States, specifically by the leadership of President Obama."

    Kerry said that cooperation between the United States and Russia had made it possible for Syrians to “taste and smell” what it means to have a reduction of violence and a resumption of some humanitarian aid deliveries after five years of bloodshed.

    Kerry said to Putin: "Mr. President, I know you have ideas, and you've already made a very critical decision with respect to a drawdown of forces in Syria. We obviously also have ideas on how we can now, most effectively, make progress in the United Nations talks in Geneva."

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: PermReader
    March 25, 2016 8:33 AM
    The Western people unanimously condemned the "neocon" Iraqi war,though support the same "neocon" anti-Asad war, that is much more stupid, because ,instead of Iraqi government US nominated, there will rule "democratic" Islamists. So the intentions of both leaders in this talks are equally unrealistic.

    by: Ron McCune from: USA
    March 25, 2016 12:26 AM
    Putin has proven himself to be an obstacle to peace in the world.It's time for the world to get Putin out of power in Russia or should I say the now Soviet Union which is what Putin has turned Russia back into. We can force Russia to quit making conflicts around the world simply by making a gas pipeline from the Middle East all the way to Europe. This will cut of money to Russia from it's natural gas customers in Europe. We will also worn China that if they step in and start buying gas from Russia then we the people will stop buying products made in China. There is enough natural gas in the Middle East and enough countries there willing to sell natural gas to Europe to pull off this plan. Please everyone join in this effort to finally choke Russia's ability to create conflicts around the world by driving Russia broke for natural gas and oil is Russia's only money making commodity.
    In Response

    by: John Archipelago from: Denmark
    March 25, 2016 8:46 PM
    Easy said than done! We would rather have Russian oil than Middle Eastern oil no matter what. We can easily deal with Putin than crazy monarchic mentality Arabs. No one can economically strangle Russia and get away with it. Remember Russia has numerous nukes and weapons of mass destructions

    by: Kafantaris
    March 25, 2016 12:00 AM
    A new Syrian Constitution by August is a realistic goal -- and is plenty of time for Assad to relocate with his friends to Russia.
    Who knows, the United Nations might even throw in an offer of prosecutorial immunity to help them like it there.

    by: meanbill from: USA
    March 24, 2016 9:54 PM
    [The Putin Syrian peace plan] approved by Assad of Syria is the only viable plan that can bring peace and stability to Syria and to the Syrian people, (a ceasefire, a free democratic government, with UN supervised free democratic elections) that the Sunni Muslim terrorist/rebels and their supporters oppose? .. At last the Syrian war has ended, and the peace process has begun, in a war that shouldn't ever had happened where over 400,000 innocent Syrians died? .. Question? .. Why were all the Syrian government opposition fighters all terrorists or rebels waging Jihad war on the Syrian government? .. and why was the US on the terrorist/rebel side in the Syrian war? .. Strange isn't it?

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