Russia, US to start military talks over Syria

MOSCOW.- Leaders at the Russian Defence Ministry and the Pentagon have agreed to restore military contacts and continue consultations, Russia’s military officials said in a statement. Russia’s Minster of Defence Sergey Shoigu and his US counterpart Ashton Carter talked by phone yesterday to discuss the situation in the Middle East and the Syrian crisis, among other issues.

They agreed to restore contacts between the ministries.

“The ministers noted the restoration of military-to-military contacts and agreed to continue consultations,” spokesperson for the Russian Defence Ministry, Igor Konashenkov, said.

The “detailed” discussion that lasted over an hour revealed that Moscow’s and Washington’s views “are close or coincide” on most of the issues considered, Konashenkov added.

The ministers also talked on the need to coordinate “bilateral and multilateral efforts to combat global terrorism”.

It was the first contact between the ministries since last August, as the relations between Russia and the US remain soured by the conflict in Ukraine.

In May, Russia’s Ministry of Defence and NATO also restored a direct telephone link.

The cooperation was suspended last April due to the situation in Ukraine as well, but after nearly a year the need “to avoid misunderstandings between NATO and Russia” outweighed the discord.

On Friday, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that President Barack Obama hoped that military talks with Russia would “help define some of the different options available to us as we consider next steps in Syria.”

“Our focus remains on destroying ISIL (Islamic State, formerly known as ISISSIL) and also on a political settlement with respect to Syria, which we believe cannot be achieved with the long-term presence of (President Bashar) Assad,” Kerry said.

“We’re looking for ways in which to find a common ground.” -RT.