Russia, US call for common ground over various issues

Updated: 2015-12-16 09:37


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MOSCOW -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met on Tuesday with visiting US Secretary of State John Kerry, hoping to reach consensus over various international issues.

When opening talks on Tuesday morning, Lavrov firstly listed a wide range of international problems that would be discussed. The two senior officials are supposed to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin after the talks later on Tuesday.

Lavrov said that questions still persist over the political settlement of the Syria crisis, and further work needs to be done under the framework of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG).

The ISSG, which involves 17 countries as well as the United Nations, the Arab League and other organizations, met in Vienna on Nov. 14 to discuss how to accelerate an end to the Syrian conflict.

"The Syrian settlement requires constant attention with regard to the goals set at two rounds of group talks in Vienna," Lavrov said.

He added the anti-terror task expanded out of Syria and currently involved various countries including Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Afghanistan.

"I hope today we will be able to discuss all these issues comprehensively," said Lavrov, adding that the Palestinian-Israeli settlement would also be touched upon.

Moreover, Lavrov said conversation would continue on "how the United States can contribute to defusing the Ukraine crisis."

"Given Washington's influence on Kiev, this could be a useful aid to efforts of the Normandy format (involving Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany)," Lavrov said.

Kerry hoped the two sides would be able to find some common ground, stressing that there is no negotiation on the fight against terrorism, "a threat to everybody, to every country."

"They leave but no choice for civilized nations to stand together and to fight and push back," Kerry said.

"I look forward this morning to our being able to make real progress. I think the world benefits when powerful nations with a history with each other have an ability to be able to find the common ground and today I hope we can find some common ground."

"What is important to note is that even when there have been differences between us, we have been able to work effectively on specific issues," Kerry said as he noted the willingness of both sides to cooperate over Syria and Ukraine crises.

"In the meeting in New York (at the end of September) between our presidents, both President Putin and (US) President (Barack) Obama made it very clear that they wanted to try and find a way forward in Syria and they also wanted to find a way to resolve Ukraine."

"Russia made significant contribution to the Iran nuclear agreement and now in both the Vienna discussions. Russia had been a significant contributor to the progress that we have been able to make," Kerry said.

Kerry's visit is the second in two years as US-Russia relations have serious deteriorated over the Ukraine crisis.

It is expected that the meetings on Tuesday would narrow differences between Russia and the US over the Syria crisis, and coordinate the international anti-terror fight.