Kerry tells Russia – U.S. wants to see further reduction in Syria violence

Kerry tells Russia – U.S. wants to see further reduction in Syria violence

Kerry tells Russia – U.S. wants to see further reduction in Syria violence

Written by Staff Writer

24 Mar, 2016 | 3:42 pm

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday (March 24) a fragile partial truce in Syria had significantly reduced levels of violence there.

“It’s fair to say three weeks ago there were very very few people who believed a cessation of hostilities was possible in Syria,” Kerry told Sergei Lavrov, his Russian counterpart, at the start of talks in Moscow.

And it is undeniable that the result of that work has produced some progress. There has been a fragile but nevertheless beneficial reduction in violence, some say as much as 85 to 90 per cent in Syria,” Kerry added.

After five years of conflict in Syria that has killed over 250,000 people and caused the world’s worst refugee crisis, Washington and Moscow reached a deal for a cessation of hostilities since February 27 and delivery of humanitarian aid to besieged areas. But Kerry also said that the United States wanted to see a further reduction of violence as well as greater flows of humanitarian aid.

“But we both know that more needs to be done in terms of both the reduction of violence and the flow of humanitarian goods,” Kerry said. Kerry said he was looking forward to productive talks in Moscow to end Syria conflict.

“I am hopeful that these meetings here in Moscow today have an ability to be able to further define and chart the road ahead so that we can bring this conflict in Syria to a close as fast as possible. And also so that we can find a way to cooperate on the other challenges of the region – Yemen, Libya, Middle East peace,” Kerry said.

“And indeed prove that two powerful nations that are being able to find cooperation in the past few years despite differences, have an ability in the face of this urgency, to do what is necessary to meet the challenge. And I look forward to some very constructive conversations today to that effect,” he added.

John Kerry will hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin later on Thursday (March 24) at a meeting arranged after the Russian leader’s surprise announcement on March 14 that he was partially withdrawing his forces from Syria. Kerry is expected to press Putin over a political transition for Syria, after Europe’s foreign policy chief turned up unexpectedly in Geneva to try to reinvigorate peace talks.

With a fragile truce in place and Europe pressing the warring sides to keep going with negotiations, a state department official said Kerry wants to “get down to brass tacks” on the question of President Bashar al-Assad’s future.

While the United States want Assad to step aside, Russia says only the Syrian people can decide his fate at the ballot box and has bristled at any talk of regime change.

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