Russia, US Vow Cooperation but No Breakthroughs

Russia, US Vow Cooperation but No BreakthroughsRussia, US Vow Cooperation but No Breakthroughs

The United States and Russia vowed to improve strained ties after “frank” talks between President Vladimir Putin and the US Secretary of State John Kerry, but there was no concrete breakthrough after eight hours of meetings.

While there were no tangible agreements, there was a marked change in the tone between the two sides who for months have traded barbs and accusations.

“Today’s meetings allowed us to better understand each other,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters after meeting Kerry for four hours to discuss Ukraine, Syria and Iran, among other issues, AFP reported.

A post on Kerry’s Twitter account called the meeting with Putin “frank” and “productive” before he headed to Turkey for key talks with NATO foreign ministers on Wednesday.

“There is no substitute for talking directly to key decision makers, particularly during a period that is as complex and fast-moving as this is,” Kerry said after separate talks with Putin which also lasted four hours.

Kerry’s trip to the Black Sea resort of Sochi was the highest level US visit to Russia since the Ukraine crisis erupted in late 2013. He and Lavrov both pledged at a joint press conference that Moscow and Washington would continue dialogue to try to resolve their differences.

The top US diplomat also reiterated that biting US and EU sanctions on Russia could be rolled back “if and when” the terms of a shaky Ukraine ceasefire were fully met. Both Kerry and Lavrov said all the terms of the truce had to be implemented.

Earlier in the day, Kerry and Lavrov laid wreaths at a World War II memorial to pay tribute to the Soviet dead.

Ties between Moscow and Washington were shredded when Russia seized the Crimea Peninsula in early 2014.