Russia-US deal on Syrian reconciliation ‘not yet finalized,’ talks to continue – Kremlin

Russia-US talks on Syrian reconciliation have not continued yet, as the agreement is “not finalized,” the Kremlin spokesman said, dismissing a Washington Post report on the White House’s “final proposal” to Moscow as “not fully relevant.”

“There is indeed a certain agreement or document which was actually mentioned by [Russian President] Vladimir Putin, but it is not yet finalized,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying by news agencies.

“Undoubtedly, all of this can only be discussed as a compromise, and the work to find this compromise is going on,” he said.

Finding ways to resolve the Syrian crisis was at the top of the agenda in a meeting between President Putin and his US counterpart Barack Obama, held on the sidelines of the G20 summit in China.

Shortly after the meeting, the Washington Post published a report describing the Obama administration’s “final proposal” to Moscow, adding that the US is running out of patience trying to pave the way for a ceasefire in Syria. 

The alleged proposal includes a truce throughout the country, including in and around Aleppo, “and the safe, sustained delivery of humanitarian assistance.” It also mentions prohibiting the Syrian Air Force from flying combat sorties against militants.

“Once the truce is in place for a specified time period,” the report reads, “then the United States and Russia are to initiate a joint air campaign against counterterrorism targets.”

The story, which cites several anonymous sources in the White House, also claims that Washington expects to receive a response from Moscow “in the next several days.”

According to Peskov, the story “is not fully relevant.” The Kremlin spokesman confirmed that “Syria has been discussed in detail by the two presidents,” adding that a separate, more thorough discussion between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry has taken place.

The top diplomats will also meet in Geneva on Thursday and Friday, according to Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.

Zakharova also said that Moscow expects the upcoming meeting to bring viable arrangements that would ensure lasting peace in war-torn Syria. “We aim for the result, but you cannot always reach it within a desired time frame,” she said Thursday.

At this point, she added, distinguishing between so-called ‘moderate rebels’ and terrorists remains the major obstacle in Russia-US talks on Syria.

Zakharova also dismissed the Washington Post story, saying that “there is no in-depth understanding and realistic expertise [in the leaks to the media] on what Russian and American experts are doing.”

"Their discussion follows recent conversations on Syria and will focus on reducing violence, expanding humanitarian assistance for the Syrian people, and moving towards a political solution needed to end the civil war," State Department spokesman John Kirby said ahead of Friday's meeting between the top diplomats.

Lavrov also met with UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, though details of the meeting were not disclosed.