US, Russian defense chiefs discuss Syria

US, Russian defense chiefs discuss Syria
# 18 September 2015 22:23 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter spoke with Russia’s defense minister on Friday about Russian-U.S. military-to-military interaction in Syria, a Pentagon spokesman said, APA reports quoting Anadolu Agency.

“The secretary and the minister talked about areas where the United States and Russia's perspectives overlap and areas of divergence,” Peter Cook said in a statement. “They agreed to further discuss mechanisms for de-confliction in Syria and the counter-ISIL campaign."

A senior Obama offical later addressed the nature of the call.

“Defense Minister [Sergei Shoygu] has said that Russian presence is defensive, in nature, designed to honor the commitments to the Syrian government,” according to the official, who said the overlapping and diverging reference referred to the fight against Daesh rather than a strategy to resolve the Syrian crisis.

“The Secretary emphasized the importance of pursuing such consultations in parallel with diplomatic talks that would ensure a political transition in Syria,” Cook said. “He noted that defeating ISIL and ensuring a political transition are objectives that need to be pursued at the same time.”

The Obama official noted that the conversation was separate from diplomatic dialogue about a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis and Carter and Shoygu found it sensible to converse in order to avoid any misunderstandings and miscalculations.

The call came after Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday that Moscow proposed talks with the U.S. on Russian activities inside Syria.

The Pentagon has consistently said Carter has not spoken to Shoygu since the two countries suspended military-to-military relations after Russia annexed Crimea in 2013.

According to the senior official, Carter and Shoygu agreed to continue their dialogue.

The Friday morning call was initiated by Russia.