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04Apr17


US State Secretary to visit Moscow in couple of weeks – spokesman


U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will visit Russia in the coming few weeks, a high-rank official at the Department of State told a telephone briefing for reporters on Tuesday.

Apart from saying that the Secretary of State would be in Moscow in a couple of weeks, he did not offer any more details. He only said the situation in Syria and the attempts to ensure ceasefire there would be one of the issues on the agenda of U.S.-Russian talks.

"In terms of Syria, again, you know, Russia and Iran signed up and they claim themselves to be the guarantors of a cease fire arrangement and that's something that clearly, they are not able to deliver on or unwilling to deliver on," the official said. "And so, that's a very significant problem."

"Obviously, that'll be something that we'll be looking at and discussing and reviewing and the secretary will be in Moscow here in a couple of weeks," he said.

The official also recalled Tillerson had discussions with the Turks in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, on March 30 regarding the process of Astana negotiations and ceasefire in Syria.

"() there's the Astana process where we have our ambassador there to observe that process because we've been invited as observers. We were in Ankara last week," he said. "Secretary Tillerson had very detailed discussions with the Turks about the Astana process and the cease-fire process and where we can plug into that to be helpful."

The official admitted along with it that the U.S. did not have much influence on the ground on the warring parties in Syria.

"You know, frankly, the U.S. doesn't have that much influence over the actors on the ground that are party to the cease-fire," he said. "The outside backers that do have quite a bit of influence, Turkey, Iran and Russia, are the primary self-proclaimed guarantors of that process. It's a process we very much support."

Reuters said at the end of March Rex Tillerson was going to visit Moscow on April 12.

Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said last week Vladimir Putin was ready to meet with Tillerson if the latter man took a decision to come to Russia.

[Source: Itar Tass, Washington, 04Apr17]

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