US secretary of state attempts to bridge divide with Kremlin over Assads role in transitional government and which groups should be included in talks
The US secretary of state, John Kerry, has arrived in Moscow for talks aimed at inducing real progress in narrowing changes with Vladimir Putin over how to end the conflict in Syria.
Kerry is seeking to prepare the ground for a third round of talks of world powers on Syria but it was not clear if a session pencilled in for Friday in New York would go ahead.
Russia and the US remain apart oon the role of Syrias president, Bashar al-Assad, in any political transition, and over which rebel groups should be part of talks.
I look forward to building real progress, Kerry said at the start of talks with Russias foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov. I believe the world benefits when powerful nations with a long history with one another have the ability to be able to find common ground, he said.
Kerry, who will meet Putin later on Tuesday, told Lavrov: Even when there have been differences between us we have been able to work effectively on specific issues.
Russia, one of Assads staunchest allies, has launched a campaign of airstrikes that it said targeted Isis militants but which also supported Assads forces-out. The Kremlin says the Syrian people, and not external powers, should decide Assads political fate.
Lavrov told Kerry there was a need for more effective international cooperation in fighting terror. On that route there are still questions which today we need to look at, Lavrov said in his opening remarks.
The run-up to the Moscow talks underlined the distance between Moscow and Washington on how to deal with the Syria crisis.
Speaking before Kerrys arrival, a US state department official said Kerry would raise concerns about Russias continued bombing of Syrian opposition forces, including some backed by Washington and its allies.
Meanwhile, Russias foreign ministry issued a statement complaining that Washington was not ready to fully cooperate in the fight against Islamic State activists and needed to rethink its policy of dividing terrorists into good and bad ones.
Kerrys visit follows a meeting last week in Riyadh during which it was agreed to unite a number of opposition groups not including Isis to negotiate with Damascus in peace talks.
While Kerry said there were still kinks that needed to be worked out primarily on which groups should be included in the talks the Kremlin repudiated the results of the Riyadh meeting, saying some of the groups were considered to be terrorists.
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