Kerry to travel to Russia, meet Putin on Syria next week

Updated: 2016-03-16 05:44


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Kerry to travel to Russia, meet Putin on Syria next week

US Secretary of State John Kerry listens to US President Barack Obama speak at the Chief of Missions Conference at the State Department in Washington March 14, 2016. [Photo/Agencies]

WASHINGTON -- US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday that he will go to Russia next week to meet President Vladimir Putin, discussing the crisis on Syria.

"I will be traveling next week to Moscow to meet with President Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in order to discuss how we can effectively move the political process forward and try to take advantage of this moment," Kerry said before a meeting with Georgia's Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze.

State Department spokesman John Kirby said the date to Moscow will be after Tuesday next week, when Kerry returns from a trip to Cuba with President Barack Obama.

Putin on Monday announced that the Russia would withdraw its air forces deployed in Syria starting from Tuesday.

The decision was discussed and coordinated with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during a phone call earlier in the day, Putin said, adding that "the fundamental tasks set for the Russian armed forced in Syria were resolved."

The White House said on Tuesday Russia so far appears to begin pulling its troops out of Syria.

"The earliest indications are that the Russians are following through," said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.

He also cautioned that "it is still too early at this point to determine the impact that might have on the broader situation."

"With the cessation of hostilities largely holding, Russia's announcement yesterday that it will remove half of its forces immediately and more perhaps from Syria and with the political negotiations reconvening this week in Geneva, we have reached a very important phase in this process," Kerry said.

"So this is a time to seize, not waste," he said. "We have at this moment the ability to finally take a step towards ending this war and the bloodshed."