US, Russia seek int’l talks soon ‘to save Syria’

US, Russia seek int’l talks soon ‘to save Syria’
Wed Jul 3, 2013 11:30:30

US Secretary of State John Kerry says international talks are the best way “save the state of Syria” from destruction, pressing with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov for a conference to try to end the Syrian crisis.

“We both agreed that our countries have an ability to be able to make a difference if we can pull together in that effort,” Kerry said after meeting Lavrov on the sidelines of an Asian security summit in Brunei on Tuesday.

Washington and Moscow have been at odds over Syria, with the Kremlin backing the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad and Washington last month pledging to give some military support to terrorists in Syria.

But despite the differences, Kerry said the objective of the United States and Russia “remains the same… to recognize the notion that there really isn’t a military victory per se in Syria that keeps Syria as a country, and … that we have an obligation to try to work towards a peaceful resolution because a peaceful settlement is the best way to save the state of Syria and to minimize the destruction.”

Russia and the US “agreed to move forward on the basis of what has already been agreed” at a preliminary round of talks on Syria, held last week in Geneva, Lavrov said.

“Our American partners recognize that the main task at hand now is to achieve a consolidation of the opposition,” the Russian foreign minister told reporters.

US and Russian officials met in Geneva last week to try to map out a road to peace in Syria, but failed to agree on a date for a follow-up international conference aimed at ending the conflict.

They did agree, however, that a vital step toward peace in Syria was for a transitional government to be set up “by mutual consent with the full transfer of power,” Kerry said.

Both men called for the next round of talks to be held “sooner rather than later,” Kerry said, although he acknowledged that they might not happen before August.

The Syria crisis began in March 2011, and thousands of people, including large numbers of government forces, have been killed.

Damascus says the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of the militants are foreign nationals.

The Syrian government says the West and its regional allies -- especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey -- are supporting the militants.

In addition, several international human rights organizations say the militants operating in Syria have committed war crimes.

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