The conflict in Syria is set to dominate a meeting between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow Wednesday in talks that US officials describe as part of an "intensified dialogue" between the nations, DPA reported.
Kerry is due in Moscow Wednesday and will meet with Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. The two-day visit will also include a wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to mark the 68th anniversary of the end of World War II and meetings with representatives from civil society at the US embassy, the State Department said.
The political and humanitarian situation in Syria will figure heavily in the talks, which are "intensifying, given the state of affairs within Syria," a senior State Department official told reporters ahead of the trip.
Washington has been pushing Moscow to take a more active role in pressuring Syrian President Baschar al-Assad to step down amid the Syria's ongoing conflict. The nations have differed sharply, with Russia impeding action in the UN Security Council, but allegations of chemical weapons use in Syria have upped the stakes for Obama, who has said such action would constitute a "red line" that could prompt US action.
Kerry's meeting comes ahead of a planned meeting between Putin and US President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the Group of Eight in June and Obama's visit to Russia for the Group of 20 in September.
The talks will also include trade and cooperation issues as well as global hotspots Iran, North Korea and Afghanistan, US officials said.
The US and Russia are also working together on the investigation of the Boston Marathon bombings, which were allegedly carried out by two brothers with ties to the Caucasus. That security cooperation, however, is not the focus of the trip, the officials said. Relations between Washington and Moscow have been damaged in recent months not only by disagreements over the conflict in Syria, but also by a US crackdown on Russian violators of human rights that prompted Russia to respond with a ban on US adoptions of Russian children.