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MOSCOW, September 8. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will meet with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Geneva on Thursday to discuss details of a possible agreement on Syria, which will include military coordination in countering terrorism, ceasefire and issues of humanitarian access around Aleppo.
The two top diplomats have already had five personal meetings this summer and autumn: in Moscow, in Vientiane, in Geneva, in Guangzhou and now again in Geneva. A major impetus to joint work on the document has been given by the latest talks between Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia and Barack Obama of the United States on the sidelines of the Group of Twenty summit in China.
Notably, three years ago, also in Geneva, Lavrov and Kerry brokered an agreement on Syria’s chemical weapons. Many-days efforts of the Russian diplomacy helped to reach a deal on destruction of chemical weapons under international control, which made it possible to avoid U.S. possible air strikes against Syrian targets.
In other words, Geneva has already seen a Russian-U.S. compromise and it’s only natural that today’s meeting between the two countries’ top diplomats inspires certain optimism.
On Wednesday, Lavrov and Kerry had a telephone conversation.
"Under instructions from the Russian and US presidents after their September 5 conversation on the sidelines of the G20 summit, the two top diplomats discussed the remaining details of the agreements on establishing the Russian-US cooperation in the fight against terrorist groups operating in Syria, expanding humanitarian access and launching the intra-Syrian political process," the Russian foreign ministry said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said earlier Moscow and Washington are on the right path and "can, at least for a certain period of time, reach an agreement to take joint energetic efforts to improve the situation in Syria." "Naturally, we will have to have consultations with the Syrian government, we will have to inform our other partners, including Iran," he said.
The Russian foreign minister has repeatedly stressed that efforts against terrorism could be efficient only when Syrian opposition is separated from militants. As far back as February and March, the United States promised to see to it that opposition leaves localities controlled by Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra (terrorists organizations outlawed in Russia) and other such groups in a span of two or three weeks. But nothing of the kind has been done.
"It is important to say that no agreements with the Americans on practical steps, on coordination of anti-terrorist efforts and missions of the Russian aerospace force and the U.S. air force and the U.S.-led coalition can be implemented unless our American partners implement their promise to separate the opposition collaborating with the United States from terrorists, first of all Jabhat al-Nusra," Lavrov stressed.
Experts point to the lack of consensus on a possible agreement with Russia on Syria in the United States. The dialogue is being impacted by the presidential campaign in the U.S. Efforts to save the face by means of imposing further sanctions on Moscow are being leveled down by the real need in anti-terrorism partnership and it is becoming ever more difficult to deny this fact.
Moreover, the Syrian external opposition, the so-called High Negotiations Committee, which is supported by a number of foreign players, has already warned it would not accept a possible Russia-U.S. agreement is case it fails their interests.
During their latest telephone conversation, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov expressed indignation with new U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia. "The Russian minister expressed his indignation with a new US sanctions attack on Russia under the pretext of the Ukraine crisis. He emphasized that normal cooperation, including the settlement of the regional conflicts for which the Barack Obama administration constantly asks us during our working contacts, was impossible without serving elementary decencies," the Russian foreign ministry said.