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US, Russia agree on Syria progress — Pompeo

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By Agence France-Presse

The United States and Russia have agreed on ways to break a deadlock in finding a political solution in war-ravaged Syria, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said after talks with President Vladimir Putin.

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the Bocharov Ruchei residence in Sochi on May 14, 2019. (Photo by Alexander NEMENOV / POOL / AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the Bocharov Ruchei residence in Sochi on May 14, 2019. (Photo by Alexander NEMENOV / POOL / AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

Pompeo said that Syria — where the United States and Russia are on opposite sides — was a major topic of conversation during the talks Tuesday evening at Putin’s dacha in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

He said that the two powers both backed establishing a committee tasked with drafting a post-war Syrian constitution — a key step that has been bogged down by disagreements over its composition.

“We had a very productive conversation on pathways forward in Syria, things we can do together where we have a shared set of interests on how to move the political process forward,” Pompeo told reporters at the airport before leaving.

“There is the political process associated with UN Security Council Resolution 2254 that has been hung up and I think we mutually now can begin to work together in a way to unlock that,” he said.

He voiced hope to “get that process to at least take the first step of forming that committee”.

UN Security Council Resolution 2254, passed unanimously in 2015, called for a UN-backed, Syrian-led political process.

But successive UN envoys working to end the eight-year war, which has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions, have struggled to make headway on the constitutional committee.

Pompeo said that Russia and the United States also discussed other areas of cooperation in Syria which he could not reveal in public.

The US pointman on Syria, Jim Jeffrey, was one of the only three US officials to accompany Pompeo in his nearly two-hour meeting with Putin.

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