U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will arrive in Moscow Tuesday for a three-day visit to meet Russian officials. Kerry is reportedly expected to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to discuss Syrian settlement as the peace talks in Geneva approach their final days.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said late Monday that Washington requested a meeting between Kerry and Russian President Vladimir Putin, local media reports said. Peskov added that the possibility of a meeting between the two is under consideration.
The White House said last week that Kerry will be discussing the ongoing ceasefire in war-torn Syria with Russian officials. He will also talk about ways to provide aid and expand humanitarian access to tens of thousands of people affected by the civil war in Syria. The United States and Russia will also discuss efforts to combat the Islamic State group.
As Kerry makes his visit to Russia, Moscow slammed Washington Monday for delaying the enforcement of a ceasefire in Syria and warned it might use force against violators unilaterally. The Russian military accused the U.S. of stalling response to Moscow's proposals on joint monitoring of the ceasefire, saying it will respond to violators if Washington refuses to coordinate rules of engagement, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
"The delay in the entry into force of the rules agreed upon for responding to violations of the ceasefire in Syria is unacceptable," Lt. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi of the Russian General Staff reportedly said in a statement Monday, accusing Washington of showing "no readiness" to discuss the agreement with Russia.
"The American side was not ready for this particular discussion and for the approval of the agreement," Rudskoi added.
Meanwhile, U.N. Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura said Monday that Kerry's visit on the heels of the Geneva peace talks was no coincidence, and "it's all interconnected." Mistura added that there was no "plan B" for the negotiations, Sputnik news agency reported. The peace talks in Geneva kicked off on March 14 after several delays and are expected to wrap up on March 24.
Russian Foreign Ministry said Monday that Kerry will also discuss bilateral cooperation and current international problems between the two parties.
"The situation in the Russian-American relations remains complicated. The series of confrontation steps, Washington has undertaken on the plea of the Ukrainian crisis, affected the cooperation greatly," the ministry reportedly said. It said the U.S. introduced visa and property sanctions on Russian entities and individuals, in what it described as "contradicting the international law."
"We hope, the visit of the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to Russia — the third in less than one year — will favor returning to normal the Russian-American relations, upon atmosphere of which depends a lot the general climate on the international arena," the Russian ministry said, according to Tass news agency.