U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will use talks in Moscow on Tuesday to try to narrow differences with Russian leader Vladimir Putin over the role of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in any political transition, a senior State Department official said on Monday.
He will seek to prepare the ground for a third round of talks of world powers on Syria amid doubts over whether a meeting pencilled in for Friday in New York will go ahead.
Russia's foreign ministry said late on Monday that Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had agreed in a phone call on the need for specific preconditions to be met before any new meeting, throwing its timing into doubt.
Russia is one of Assad's staunchest allies and launched a campaign of air strikes to support his forces against insurgents on Sept. 30. It says only the Syrian people and not external powers should decide his political fate.
Speaking in Paris before Kerry visits Moscow on Tuesday, the State Department official said Kerry would raise concerns about Russia's continued bombing of Syrian opposition forces instead of Islamic State of Iraq and Syrian (ISIS) militants, an approach likely to anger Moscow.
Ahead of the talks, the Russian foreign ministry issued a statement criticizing U.S. policy on Syria, complaining that Washington was not ready to fully cooperate in the struggle against ISIS militants and needed to rethink its policy of "dividing terrorists into good and bad ones".
Kerry's meeting with Putin follows a meeting last week in Riyadh which agreed to unite a number of opposition groups excluding ISIS to negotiate with Damascus in Syrian peace talks.
While Kerry said there were still "kinks" that needed to be worked out on the plan to unite the opposition groups, the Kremlin rejected the outcome of the Riyadh meeting, saying it had no right to speak on behalf of the entire Syrian opposition.
Assad himself appeared to cast doubt on the very idea of peace talks last Friday, saying he would not negotiate with armed groups that he said were backed by the United States and Saudi Arabia.
The opposition groups said Assad should leave power at the start of a transitional period.
نستخدم ملفات الكوكيز لنسهل عليك استخدام مواقعنا الإلكترونية ونكيف المحتوى والإعلانات وفقا لمتطلباتك واحتياجاتك الخاصة، لتوفير ميزات وسائل التواصل الاجتماعية ولتحليل حركة المرور لدينا...اعرف أكثر