Kerry, Hagel meet with Russian counterparts

Aug. 9, 2013 at 1:41 PM
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WASHINGTON, Aug. 9 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart met Friday to try and smooth over the currently tense U.S.-Russian relationship.

Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov got together just two days after President Barack Obama canceled a planned summit meeting next month with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Politico reported.

The Kerry meeting was to see how the two countries could find common ground on issues such as the conflict in Syria and missile defense.

"Sergei Lavrov and I are old hockey players and we both know that diplomacy, like hockey, can sometimes result in the occasional collision, so we're candid, very candid, about the areas in which we agree, but also the areas in which we disagree," Kerry said.

Kerry said he and Lavrov will also discuss the case of National Security Agency whistle-blower Edward Snowden, who was granted asylum by Russia despite America's demands that he be to the United States to face criminal prosecution.

"It's no secret that we have experienced some challenging moments and obviously not just over the Snowden case. We will discuss these differences today for certain," Kerry told reporters at the start of meeting at the State Department. "This meeting remains important above and beyond the collisions and the moments of disagreement. It is important for us to find ways to make progress on missile defense on other strategic issues, including Afghanistan, Iran, on North Korea and Syria."

Also involved in the meeting were Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Voice of America reported.

On Thursday, the Russian Defense Ministry said it hoped the talks between the four officials would be "constructive," RIA Novosti reported.

"Despite the new developments in U.S.-Russian relations, we expect the consultations to be constructive and allow us to prepare the next steps in the strengthening of strategic stability," Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov told reporters.

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