Kerry: U.S. and Russia working together on Syria
Kerry, Lavrov and Russian President Vladimir Putin conducted a broad discussion on Tuesday, particularly with respect to issues related to Syria. Kerry said Russia and the U.S. will seek to convene an international conference as a follow-on to last summer's Geneva's conference to bring together the Syrian government and the opposition to apply the Geneva communique.
Kerry said that he and Lavrov agree that the Geneva communique is an important path to ending the bloodshed in Syria. The Syrian opposition has already shown support for the communique and its prohibition of chemical weapon use.
"The opposition went to Istanbul a week ago, two weeks ago, and in Istanbul they issued a set of declarations in which they signed on to, number one, support for the Geneva communique, support for a transitional government," Kerry said. "They signed on to a set of standards which would prohibit any use of chemical weapons. They agreed to be inclusive and democratic and protect all minorities inside Syria. And so I think there's the basis here for the people of Syria to have confidence that if we can achieve a transitional government and ultimately end the violence, the people of Syria will decide the future of Syria."
Kerry said that while there has been a perception that the U.S. and Russia haven't been on the same page with Syria, he said it was significant that the two countries are coming together in an effort to implement the Geneva communique.
"I think a lot of people in the region and in the world are seeing this violence and frankly are really deeply concerned for the people of Syria and for the possibilities of peace, and that there will be a growing crescendo of nations who will want to push for a peaceful resolution rather than the chaos that comes with the breakup of the country and the continued battle, which can and will take place," Kerry said. "Now it's obviously up to the regime to undertake a set of behavior - to undertake steps here to guarantee that they're not using chemical weapons, they're not inviting greater reactions than exist today. And we'll have to see how that plays out."
Kerry said that with the U.S. and Russia working together, the two countries can make significant changes in Syria, Iran and other countries.
"There are really important things for the world to be working on right now, to see two great nations joining together to work on," Kerry said. "And those are things like nuclear proliferation, Iran, North Korea, the threat of war, Middle East peace, Syria, and the possibility of ethnic conflagration. We have the ability as countries to be able to change the direction of those events."