US-Russian Relations In Spotlight Ahead Of Friends Of Syria Meeting

US-Russians Meet But Syria Tensions Overshadow Meeting
Secretary of State John Kerry met on Tuesday with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov to discuss several bilateral concerns, including trade relations, Iran’s nuclear program, disputes between the two nations on adoptions.

They also addressed how to move forward on implementing the Geneva Agreement, the plan to form a transitional government for Syria if Bashar al-Assad steps down or is ousted.

US Nearing Decision On Non-Lethal Aid To Syrian Rebels
The meeting in Berlin took place as the administration was again signaling it was considering non-lethal assistance to Syrian rebels. Using intentionally vague language, Secretary Kerry stated that the US would attend the Rome meeting of the Friends of Syria and would discuss “next steps” and “perhaps even other options that may or may not be discussed further after that.”

Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov spent a majority of their time together addressing Syria, which has come to symbolize the tense relationship between the two nations.

Friends Of Syria Meeting In Rome
Jim Muir of the BBC reports that Thursday’s meeting of the Friends of Syria taking place in Rome likely will not lead to any productive resolution because the geopolitics and the situation in Syria have not changed considerably. Perhaps more importantly, the Syrian National Council, which was the original opposition umbrella group and has subsequently been absorbed by the broader Syrian National Coalition last November, will not be in attendance.

“There is no change in the Russian or American positions,” one SNC official told the BBC, adding that the Obama administration “will not approve the supply of arms to the opposition, we know that for sure. It’s promises as before, and promises remain promises.”

 

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