News / Europe

US, Russia to Organize International Talks on Syria

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) speaks to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry during their meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, May 7, 2013.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) speaks to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry during their meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, May 7, 2013.
James Brooke
After 18 months of chilly relations with Washington, the Kremlin gave a warm welcome Tuesday to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

Signaling a clear change in tone, President Putin was filmed for national television welcoming the new American Secretary of State. "I think it is very important that our key ministries and agencies, including the foreign ministry, cooperate in finding solutions for the most topical and relevant issues of today’s world," the Russian President told Kerry, who was joined by U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul.

Only a year ago, Putin was charging that the State Department, and McFaul in particular, were encouraging street demonstrations against him. Then the Kremlin unilaterally ended a series of American programs here, dragging relations between Washington and the Kremlin to their lowest point since the Cold War.

Putin said he looked forward to meeting with President Obama next month on the sidelines of the G-8 summit in Northern Ireland. Then, in a rare move for this protocol conscious country, the Russian President held an hour long meeting with Kerry, who is the equivalent of a Foreign Minister.

  • Rebel fighters of the Syrian Kurdish Popular Protection Units (YPG) talk in the Sheikh Maqsoud neighborhood of Aleppo, May 9, 2013.
  • A view shows damaged buildings and debris in the Khaldiyeh district of Homs, May 9, 2013.
  • Syrian children play near a water distribution point in the Almyassar central district of Aleppo, May 8, 2013.
  • A Free Syrian Army fighter holds his weapon in Raqqa province, east Syria, May 6, 2013.
  • A Free Syrian Army fighter stands behind a pile of sandbags in Raqqa province, east Syria, May 6, 2013.
  • Free Syrian Army fighters prepare to head toward the front line in the al-Ziyabiya area, Damascus, May 5, 2013.
  • An armored vehicle is seen parked as Free Syrian Army fighters gather on a street in the refugee camp of Yarmouk, near Damascus, May 5, 2013.
  • This image taken from video obtained from the Ugarit News shows smoke and fire filling the the skyline after an Israeli airstrike, Damascus, May 5, 2013.
  • This photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA shows damaged buildings wrecked by an Israeli airstrike in Damascus, May 5, 2013.
  • This image provided by ENN shows a protester with a sign reading "If America does not know who used the chemical weapons, so it could be flying saucers from another planet," Sarmada, Idlib, Syria, May 3, 2013.
  • A man reacts after his grandson was injured during what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Raqqa province, Syria, May 2, 2013. 
  • Residents inspect a damaged building that was shelled by forces activists say were loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Raqqa province, Syria, May 2, 2013.
  • This photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA shows Syrian President Bashar al-Assad visiting the Umayyad Electrical Station, Damascus, Syria, May 1, 2013.

Later, Kerry held talks with Sergei Lavrov, Russia's longest serving foreign minister. Kerry said: "Russia and the United States can cooperate on some significant challenges that we face now and make very real contributions to the possibilities of stability and peace, in places like the Middle East, Syria."

Kerry and Lavrov announced at a news conference that their two countries will try to arrange an international conference on ending the conflict in Syria - and will seek to bring together the Syrian government and opposition at that conference, possibly by the end of this month.

Russia has three times vetoed US-backed moves in the United Nations to impose sanctions on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government. Washington hopes to enlist Moscow’s support in crafting a political solution to the war that has taken 70,000 lives.

Kerry stressed other areas where the U.S. and Russia now work together, ranging from Start 2, WTO, Iran, North Korea and Afghanistan.

Russian and American officials apparently believe the political calendar now gives both governments a chance for further cooperation. Last year, elections in both countries produced nationalist campaign rhetoric.

Now, there are two Putin-Obama meetings scheduled between June and September.

Oddly, the Boston Marathon bombings last month speeded up the process of renewing dialogue. On Tuesday, Putin noted that he had talked twice in recent days by telephone with President Obama. The subject was better security cooperation.

The main suspect in the Boston bombings was Tamerlan Tsarnaev, a Russian citizen who spent six months last year in Dagestan, Russia’s main conflict zone with Islamic extremists. Putin has said the bombings highlight the need for both countries to overcome their differences and do a better job of information sharing.

You May Like

Hong Kong Democracy Calls Spread to Macau

Macau and Hong Kong are China’s two 'special administrative regions' which gives them a measure of autonomy More

After Nearly 2 Years, Pistorius Remains Elusive

Reporter Anita Powell reflects on her experience covering the Olympic athlete's murder trial More

Kenyan Coastal Town Struggles With Deadly June Attacks

Three months after al-Shabab militants allegedly attacked their town, some Mpeketoni residents are still bitter, question who was really behind the assaults More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africai
X
Luis Ramirez
September 15, 2014 11:01 PM
President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africa

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid