Kerry visits UK for talks on Syria, refugee crisis

US Secretary of State John Kerry arrives at London's Stansted Airport, north of London on September 18, 2015.  © Evan Vucci
US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in the UK for forthcoming talks with his British counterpart on the Syrian conflict and the refugee crisis.

Kerry arrived in London on Friday and is expected to hold talks with British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond. The ministers will discuss various “bilateral and global issues” on Saturday according to US State Department spokesperson John Kirby.

Syria will be high on the agenda as the US is considering the Russian offer to hold military-to-military talks on the situation in the war-torn country, Kerry told reporters on Wednesday. Kerry noted that the US seeks to better understand Russia’s intentions amidst concerns of a recent alleged military build-up.

The US has been aiding rebels fighting against President Bashar Assad throughout the conflict, while Russia has been backed the Syrian leader. However, the possibility of direct military talks between the two nations may signal the beginning of cooperation in dealing with the terrorist threat.

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Kerry and Hammond are also slated to discuss the deepening refugee crisis. Hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers have fled from Syria and neighboring countries into Europe since the start of the conflict. UK Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged to accept 20,000 refugees over the next five years, though the Labour opposition claims this figure doesn’t go nearly far enough.

The White House has vowed to take in at least 10,000 Syrian refugees next year. Since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011, the US has granted 1,500 Syrians asylum.

During his London visit, Kerry will also meet with United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayad, before flying to Berlin on Sunday.