By Fred Weir, Correspondent / May 7, 2013
MOSCOW – Secretary of State John Kerry huddled in the Kremlin for several hours with President Vladimir Putin Tuesday, in what US officials described as an effort to “intensify” US-Russia dialogue and inject some fresh juice into a bilateral relationship that’s been stumbling aimlessly, amid growing acrimony, for over a year.
More urgently, he told Mr. Putin that Russia and the United States must try harder to forge a common position on the fast-deteriorating situation in Syria, where conflicting charges of chemical weapons usage have alarmed the big powers, and a series of Israeli airstrikes in recent days have raised the specter of a much wider war.
“The United States believes that we share some very significant common interests with respect to Syria,” Mr. Kerry told Putin.
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Those mutual interests include promoting stability in the region, blocking extremists from gaining power, and working together to broker a peaceful political transition for the civil war-wracked country, he added.
But according to a brief note posted on the Kremlin’s official website, Putin indicated that he was only interested in a general discussion of “global problems” and would probably wait for his upcoming meetings with President Obama to make any serious decisions.
“I hope to soon meet with [Obama] in person. We will have opportunities to do so several times this year,” Putin wrote.