U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson raised the possibility on Wednesday of several joint steps with Moscow to promote stability in Syria and urged all parties fighting Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant militants in the country to avoid conflict with one another.
Tillerson in a statement released in Washington late Wednesday said the United States was "prepared to explore" the establishment with Russian Federation of "joint mechanisms" for Syria, now into its sixth year of warfare.
The US launched a cruise missile attack on a Syrian air base in April in response to what it said was a regime chemical weapons attack on civilians.
Tillerson issued the statement on Thursday before heading to the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, to join President Donald Trump, where the US leader will also have his first face-to-face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Trump and Putin are expected to discuss a range of policy disagreements, including Syria and the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.
Pifer said he hopes Trump and Putin "take a look at the range of issues, but follow the approach that Tillerson laid out".
The US Secretary of State stressed further that Moscow has "an obligation" to prevent any potential use of chemical weapons by Syrian government forces.
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Tillerson said the USA and Russian Federation have "unresolved differences" on various issues, but also the potential for cooperation.
In March, Tillerson said the US would set up "interim zones of stability" to help refugees return home in the next phase of the fight against Daesh and al-Qaeda in Syria and Iraq. Syrian government forces, with the support of Russian Federation, have attacked and bombed civilians, killing and injuring thousands; maintained lengthy sieges on civilian areas; subjected tens of thousands to enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions; and systematically tortured and otherwise ill-treated detainees, causing countless deaths in custody.
Citing past cooperation in creating de-escalation zones in Syria, Tillerson made a strong case for both countries - in spite of their "unresolved differences on a number of issues" - to work together in Syria.
USA aircraft shot down two Iranian drones in Syria in the month of June and shot down a Syrian Regime plane.
The three main countries behind the talks have already agreed to hold the next round of discussions in Astana in the final week of August.
Russia and the United States support opposing sides in Syria - Russia backs Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and also carries out strikes against anti-Assad rebel groups, some of whom are armed and supported by the USA to fight ISIS.