Russian intervention in Syria has forced president Obama to rethink US policy.
The Financial Times reports US and Russia Hold Syria Talks as Moscow Hints at Combat Role.
US secretary of defense Ashton Carter held direct talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu on Friday to discuss the war in Syria, amid mounting concern in the west over Russia’s growing military support for the Assad regime.
The talks started as Moscow indicated it could send combat troops to Syria to support the Syrian military and US secretary of state John Kerry appeared to adopt a softer position towards Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.
The Friday phone call with Mr Shoigu was the first time Mr Carter had spoken to the Russian defence minister since he assumed office in March and ended a long period of almost no communication between the two militaries as a result of the conflict in Ukraine.
The Pentagon said that the two ministers talked about ways to “deconflict” their respective operations in Syria, including the risk that planes from both countries could be flying in close proximity, and that both countries were focused on defeating Isis.
Speaking in London, Mr Kerry said that the purpose of the military talks would be to “define some of the different options that are available to us as we consider next steps in Syria.”
The Obama administration has long insisted that Mr Assad could not be part of any political agreement that might end the war. However, on Friday Mr Kerry appeared to suggest it could accept the Syrian president remaining in power in the short-term, saying that no political settlement in Syria could be achieved “with the long-term presence of Assad”.
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