John Kerry arrives in Moscow for Syria talks

The US secretary of state, John Kerry, has arrived in Moscow for talks aimed at making “real progress” in narrowing differences with Vladimir Putin over how to end the conflict in Syria.


Kerry is seeking to prepare the ground for a third round of talks of world powers on Syria but it was not clear if a meeting pencilled in for Friday in New York would go ahead.


Russia and the US remain apart oon the role of Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, in any political transition, and over which rebel groups should be part of talks.


“I look forward to making real progress,” Kerry said at the start of talks with Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov. “I think the world benefits when powerful nations with a long history with each other have the ability to be able to find common ground,” he said.


Kerry, who will meet Putin later on Tuesday, told Lavrov: “Even when there have been differences between us we have been able to work effectively on specific issues.”


Russia, one of Assad’s staunchest allies, has launched a campaign of airstrikes that it said targeted Isis militants but which also supported Assad’s forces. The Kremlin says the Syrian people, and not external powers, should decide Assad’s political fate.


Lavrov told Kerry there was a need for more effective international cooperation in fighting terror. “On that route there are still questions which today we need to look at,” Lavrov said in his opening remarks.


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