PARIS: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday he would travel to Moscow next week for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Ukraine and a political settlement in Syria.
Speaking during an event on the sidelines of the Paris climate talks, Kerry said Russia “has been constructive” in trying to find a political solution to the Syrian conflict.
“I will be traveling to Moscow in a week and will be meeting with him (Putin) and (Russian Foreign Minister Sergei) Lavrov on Syria and on Ukraine,” Kerry said.
“If we can join interests sufficiently to understand there is a positive outcome for all of us in saving Syria and getting a political settlement … it’ll be absolutely enormous. And that is why I’m going.”
Kerry often meets with Lavrov during events around the globe, and it will be his second trip to Russia this year to discuss Syria and Ukraine. He met Putin in the Black Sea resort town of Sochi in May.
The Moscow talks will take place ahead of a possible meeting in New York on December 18 on trying to push the Syrian political process forward. But Kerry has warned that the New York meeting hinges on efforts currently underway in Saudi Arabia to unite Syrian opposition groups.
Russia, the United States, European and Middle Eastern countries agreed last month on a two-year timeline leading to Syrian national elections, but left many questions unresolved, most notably the fate of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The countries involved in the talks, which also include Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey, laid out a plan including formal talks between the government and opposition from Jan. 1.
To achieve that timeline, Saudi Arabia is hosting a conference this week to try to unite Syria’s divided rebel and opposition groups, who are trying to forge a common platform to be able to negotiate with the Syrian government.