MOSCOW:(APS)MARCH 24,2016—U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian President Vladimir Putin say that cooperation between the two countries has been instrumental in achieving an unexpectedly successful cessation of hostilities in war-torn Syria
Kerry and Putin spoke before going into talks at the Kremlin on the way forward in Syria, on terrorism and the situation in Ukraine
Putin welcomed Kerry with praise for U.S. leadership in Syria: “We are aware that the groundwork we have on Syria has only been possible by the supreme political leadership of the United States, specifically by the leadership of President Obama.”
Kerry said it is fair to say that cooperation between the United States and Russia has made it possible for Syrians to “taste and smell” what it means to have a reduction of violence and a resumption of some humanitarian aid deliveries after five years of bloodshed.
“Mr. President,” Kerry said to Putin, “I know you have ideas, and you’ve already made a very critical decision with respect to draw down forces in Syria. We obviously also have ideas on how we can now, most effectively, make progress in [the United Nations talks in] Geneva, and then the very serious and difficult work of the decision.”
Kerry also began the talks with Putin on a positive and optimistic note, saying: “I look forward much to the opportunity tonight to be able to find a way forward, and frankly, ultimately to see if we can rebuild the relationship between the Untied States and Russia by proving we can solve some serious problems together and building from there.”
Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are set to hold a joint news conference later Thursday after talks between Kerry and Putin.
The remarks began with Putin joking about Kerry having to carry his own briefcase in Moscow. Kerry responded, saying he would show Putin what is in his briefcase when they have a private moment, adding that he thinks Putin “will be surprised.”