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
"The United States believes that we share some very significant
common interests with respect to Syria," Mr. Kerry told Putin.
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
"I hope to soon meet with [Obama] in person. We will have
opportunities to do so several times this year," Putin wrote.
"I feel it is very important that our key ministries, including
our foreign ministries, are working jointly to resolve the most
difficult problems in the world today," he added.
Experts say the atmosphere is a bit more favorable for US-Russia
detente today than a few months ago, when each side was passing laws
that branded some of the other's officials as criminals . In part
that may be because the tragedy of last month's Boston Marathon
bombing has focused minds in both countries on the need for greatly
improved security cooperation between their intelligence services.
One of the main purposes of Kerry's two day visit, his first to
Moscow since becoming secretary of State, is to prepare the ground
for two high-profile upcoming meetings between Mr. Obama and Putin.
The first is the G-8 summit, to be held this year in Northern
Ireland in just over a month's time. Then, in September Obama will
visit Russia for the first time since 2009, where he will hold
meetings with Putin on the sidelines of the G-20 leader's summit in
"The Boston tragedy may turn out to be a catalyst which offers
Obama and Putin an opportunity to do what they've clearly wanted to
do for some time, which is to arrest the deterioration of the US-
Russia relationship," says Sergei Markov, a political analyst and
former adviser to Putin. …