U.S., Russia discuss Syria at 2+2 meeting

The U.S. and Russia discussed North Korea and Syria among other topics during the 2+2 meeting in Washington this week, the U.S. State Department said on Monday.

Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu held a press conference on Monday prior to the 2+2 meeting. Kerry said the representatives from both countries would discuss ways to make progress on strategic issues, including Syria, North Korea, Iran and Afghanistan.

Kerry said the U.S. and Russia both agree that the only solution in Syria is a negotiated political solution.

"While Sergey and I do not always agree completely on responsibility for the bloodshed or on some of the ways forward, both of us and our countries agree that to avoid institutional collapse and descent into chaos, the ultimate answer is a negotiated political solution," Kerry said. "And Geneva II conference is a step toward that solution. And I look forward to a very honest and robust discussion on all of these issues."

Lavrov agreed that the U.S. and Russia have the same goal with respect to Syria of starting the political process by staging the Geneva II conference.

"As regards crisis settlement, Syria indeed is on top of our agenda," Lavrov said. "Our goal is the same. We need to start political process. We need to stage Geneva II conference. And in my view, the most important task for the Geneva II would be honor the commitment of all G-8 leaders made in Lough Erne when they called upon both government and opposition to join efforts to fight terrorists and force them away from Syria."

Kerry said the relationship between the U.S. and Russia is very important and the U.S. was looking forward to a productive and full conversation.