Lavrov: US Finally Moves Closer to Russia on Syria's Aleppo
US Secretary of State John Kerry has finally made proposals on how to move forward on the crisis in Syria’s stricken city of Aleppo that seem acceptable to Russia, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Saturday.
Lavrov and Kerry met on Friday on the margins of the Mediterranean Dialogues in Rome, Italy. The conference, the second since 2015, deals with security issues faced by countries on the Northern and Southern shores of the Mediterranean.
"Yesterday during our meeting in Rome, John Kerry turned in American proposals in line with proposals defended for a long time by our experts," Lavrov told reporters after he was asked if there was any progress with Washington on dissociation of terrorists and moderate opposition in Syria.
Russia is ready to send experts o Geneva as soon as possible to agree steps to improve the situation in Aleppo with the United States, the Russian foreign minister said. "We are ready to immediately send our military experts and diplomats to Geneva to agree with American colleagues, taking into account American proposals, on joint actions which will allow all militants without exception to leave eastern Aleppo, allow non-interrupted humanitarian deliveries to the citizens and allow mending of normal life in eastern Aleppo," Lavrov told reporters. However, Russian and US militaries only work together to avoid air incidents in Syrian airspace and have no anti-terror agreements in place, Lavrov said. "Steady contacts between Russian and US military personnel are conducted only in line with agreements reached a year ago to avoid air incidents during the work of the US coalition and the Russian air forces in Syrian air," he said. "Unfortunately there is no such congruence when it comes to… a real coordination in anti-terrorism fight."
There is nothing new and surprising for Russia with regard to the US decision on restrictions of military contacts between Moscow and Washington, Lavrov said. "There's nothing new regarding the restrictions on international contacts of Russia and the United States, which were introduced by the US Congress. Even in Pentagon's last year budget there was a ban on contacts of military departments," he told reporters. Earlier this week, the US House of Representatives passed a defense budget that limits the cooperation with Russia on military issues. In particular, it prohibits allocating funds for military cooperation with Russia, until the country fulfills a number of conditions, among them are the return of Crimea to Ukraine, adherence to the Minsk agreements and giving up on what Washington sees as aggression toward Ukraine.