US wants cooperation with Russia, but Moscow must ‘decide to settle political part’ in Syria – Kerry

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry © Brendan Smialowski
In an interview with the Russian-based interstate MIR TV channel, US Secretary of State John Kerry claimed the US seeks multidimensional cooperation with Russia, including both economic development and resolution of ongoing crises in Syria and Ukraine.

Kerry emphasized the important role Russia is playing in resolving the Syrian conflict and stressed the necessity of cooperation with a “major power with very capable air forces” in the interview. 

“Of course, we are coordinating and will coordinate with Russia,” he said referring to the situation in Syria.

The US Secretary of State also admitted that the US “would like to be able to do more with Russia” in Syria, but said that it could be possible only if “Russia really makes a decision… to help settle the political part of the war.”

At the same time, Kerry stressed that the Assad regime still remains a problem for the US and its allies, as “Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, other countries and the opposition will not stop fighting Assad.”

However, instead of insisting that Bashar Assad should be ousted from power, Kerry claimed that “the way to end the war is to ask Assad to help with a transition into a new government,” thus admitting that current Syrian president should play a role in the future political process in the country.

John Kerry also praised the last meeting on Syria in Vienna by saying that “Russia and the US together helped to forge a step forward… that could begin to shape the possibility of a peace” adding that the US “would clearly like to cooperate and not to be in opposition” with Russia.

Concerning economic cooperation, Kerry claimed that he has repeatedly told Russian president Vladimir Putin as well as Chinese leader Xi Jinping that “we need to work together on development issues.”

“There is no ‘Big Game’ in it at all. This is about everybody benefitting, including Russia and China as well as other countries,” he said adding the US has begun cooperating with China in this field and “would like obviously to do more with other partners.”

Kerry also said that the aim of the US’s economic cooperation policy is to “raise the standards” for workforce protection and the quality of workplaces, as well as to invite other countries to join “initiatives, such as Transpacific Partnership (TPP).”

“We welcome China, Russia and other countries, who would like to join [the TPP], as long as they want to raise the standards and live up to [them] … doing business openly, transparently and accountably,” John Kerry said in the interview.

Speaking about recent developments in Ukraine, Kerry stressed that resolving the crisis is “an issue of an agreement – the Minsk agreement,” which must be implemented – thus, de facto, echoing Russia’s stance on the issue.

The US Secretary of State also emphasized that the implementation of the Minsk agreement envisages special status for the Eastern Ukrainian regions and talked about the possibility of lifting sanctions and improving relations with Russia.

If all the provisions of the Minsk agreement are implemented, “then sanctions will be lifted and we can go back to relationship that … will begin to reduce tensions that have existed for the past couple of years,” he said.