Kerry, Lavrov to Discuss Syria

Kerry, Lavrov to Discuss SyriaKerry, Lavrov to Discuss Syria

US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday he would meet his Russian counterpart in the coming days to discuss an American proposal for closer military cooperation and intelligence sharing on Syria.

Kerry told reporters that he might meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva, but indicated detailed talks were more likely to take place on the sidelines of a gathering of Southeast Asian nations in Laos on Monday and Tuesday.

Kerry defended the US proposal, which has been greeted with deep skepticism by top American military and intelligence officials, Reuters reported.

“The president of the United States has authorized and ordered this track,” he said. “It is the president’s desire to test whether or not the Russians are prepared to do what they said during our negotiations in Moscow that they will do.”

Declining to comment on internal negotiations, Kerry said, “The place for these arguments to be argued is in the (White House) Situation Room with the president of the United States, and he has made a decision.” The proposed agreement, which Kerry discussed in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin last week, would require the Syrian government to cease attacks on US-backed Syrian opposition fighters.

In return, Russia would receive US intelligence help to target terrorist groups in Syria such as the self-styled Islamic State and Al-Qaeda-affiliate Nusra Front.