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Kerry to Visit Russia for Talks on Syria

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) walks behind Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) at the start of a NATO-Russia foreign ministers meeting in Brussels, April 23, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry travels to Russia next week for talks with his counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, and an expected meeting with President Vladimir Putin.
Secretary Kerry and Foreign Minister Lavrov have already met several times over the past few months, but this will be the secretary of state's first trip to Moscow.
"And the visit, in my judgment, is overdue. I look forward to that particularly given the range of issues that we need to discuss from Syria to Iran to the upcoming G8 summit," said Kerry.
On Syria, the United States and Russia have been at odds over how best to deal with the rebellion there. Russia and China have repeatedly used their Security Council veto to block tougher United Nations action against embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Russia supplies weapons to the Assad army. The United States and other countries support his opponents, although Washington says it is not providing weapons.
"We've been clear with the Russians where we've had disagreements and differences of opinion and that includes the support and arms they've provided to the Syrian regime," said Acting Deputy State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell. "We've been clear there are some issues like chemical weapons and others where we have mutual interests and mutual concerns."
Ventrell says the key point that Kerry will make in Moscow is the need for a political solution.
"We still think that a political transition is the best way to end the violence, and to do so in the swiftest way to prevent further bloodshed and to maintain some of the Syrian institutions, so that there is not a further dissolution of the institutions that provide basic services to the Syrian people," he said.
Asked what other issues are on the Kerry agenda, Ventrell says human rights always come up in talks with Russian officials. There also may be discussion of Russia's suspension of adoptions by U.S. parents, its ouster of the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the ongoing investigation into Chechens who are suspected of bombing the Boston marathon last month.
One of those men returned to Russia's southern republic of Dagestan last year to get a new Russian passport.