The US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov will meet today on the side-lines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Peru due to take place on November the 19th and 20th. Their last meeting was held in the Swiss city of Lausanne a month ago. US State Department sources said that the two sides would discuss the attempt to revive the US-Russian agreement concerning the delivery of humanitarian aid to Syrians affected by the crisis, and that they will also touch upon the issue of Ukraine.
US sources have ruled out a breakthrough with regards to Syria considering Moscow’s support for the Assad regime and the fact that the Russians continue to bombard Aleppo. Moscow has also accused Washington of failing to distinguish between the moderate opposition and terrorist groups. Analysts indicated that expectations that the parties will reach an agreement to achieve a real cease-fire have been lowered.
The meeting between Kerry and Lavrov is considered to be the first which brings the two sides together at the same table after the Lausanne meeting that was held in mid-October in which the UN special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura and the foreign ministers of Qatar, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt participated. Participants of those talks failed to reach a consensus on how to implement a new ceasefire.
On its part, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced that US and Russian officials are holding daily talks in Geneva about the Syrian issue. The US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov held a telephone conversation about the continuation of consultations to resolve the crisis. Moscow also accused Washington of failing to distinguish the moderate Syrian opposition from terrorist groups in Aleppo.
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that Lavrov and Kerry will discuss the subject of sanctions and the situation in Ukraine and Syria. Ryabkov stressed that experts in Moscow and Washington continue to communicate regarding the situation in Syria via their foreign ministries, and expressed his disappointment at the Pentagon for advising President Obama not to cooperate with Russia with regards to the Syrian issue. He also pointed out that Moscow does not intend to convince the Pentagon to change its position under any circumstances and described the cooperation and communication between the two sides as not “useless”.
The State Department yesterday condemned attacks carried out by Russia in Syria that target civilians almost daily, and Washington confirmed that Russia’s support for the Syrian regime has prevented aid from reaching those in need.
The State Department’s Spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said during a press conference on Tuesday evening “We have consistently tried to work to de-escalate the violence in Syria. We’re at the table again in Geneva on that today. And we’ve consistently pushed for the provision of humanitarian aid to these civilians suffering under siege. Instead of joining us constructively to reach that goal, Russia again has backed the Assad regime in their ruthless war against the Syrian people.”
The State Department’s Spokeswoman also said that discussions with Russia in order to urge it to stop bombarding the city of Aleppo have been ongoing for the last three weeks, and described the continuing Russian air raids as “disappointing”. Trudeau added that “We believe that Russia and the Syrian regime’s actions are inexcusable. However, we still believe that the only way forward is a political resolution and that resolution will happen through multilateral talks.”