PARIS (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday he would travel to Moscow next week for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Ukraine and a political settlement in Syria.
Speaking during an event on the sidelines of the Paris climate talks, Kerry said despite its military and political interests in Syria, Moscow “has been constructive” in trying to find a political settlement to end the Syrian conflict.
“I’m ... traveling to Moscow in a week and will be meeting with him (Putin) and with Foreign Minister Lavrov on the subject of Syria and on Ukraine,” Kerry said. “They have helped us in this process. Russia has been constructive in helping the Vienna process to take place, to be successful, and I think they want a political settlement there.”
He did not elaborate on dates for the meeting.
Kerry often meets with Lavrov during events around the globe, and it will be his second trip to Russia this year to discuss Syria and Ukraine. He met Putin in the Black Sea resort town of Sochi in May.
The Moscow talks will take place ahead of a possible meeting in New York on December 18 on trying to push the Syrian political process forward. But Kerry has warned that the New York meeting hinges on efforts currently underway in Saudi Arabia to unite Syrian opposition groups.
Russia, the United States, European and Middle Eastern countries agreed last month in talks in Vienna on a two-year timeline leading to Syrian national elections, but left many questions unresolved, most notably the fate of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The countries involved in the talks, which also include Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey, laid out a plan including formal talks between the government and opposition from Jan. 1.
To achieve that timeline, Saudi Arabia is hosting a conference this week to try to unite Syria’s divided rebel and opposition groups, who are trying to forge a common platform to be able to negotiate with the Syrian government.
Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky