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Kerry: U.S. considering military talks with Russia on Syria

By Amy R. Connolly
Secretary of State John Kerry delivers remarks July 27 at an event releasing the 2015 Trafficking in Persons Report, at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. Wednesday, Kerry said the United States is considering military talks with Russia about Syria. File photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/814d8442f9b4ffdc08fad710477ed2cf/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Secretary of State John Kerry delivers remarks July 27 at an event releasing the 2015 Trafficking in Persons Report, at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. Wednesday, Kerry said the United States is considering military talks with Russia about Syria. File photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Sept. 17 (UPI) -- Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States is considering Russia's offer to hold military talks about Moscow's role in the war in Syria.

The Russians proposed a military-to-military conversation about preventing a potential conflict as the United States continues to lead airstrikes against the Islamic State -- also identified as IS, ISIS and ISIL -- in Syria for a "clear and complete understanding" of the Russian intentions in the country.

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"You have a conversation in order to do that,'' Kerry said after Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov proposed the talks. "It is vital to avoid misunderstandings, miscalculations [and] not to put ourselves in a predicament where we are supposing something, and the supposition is wrong."

Kerry said he favors such talks, but did not say whether the United States would enter into the dialogue.

The Pentagon said Russia appears to be building an operating base in Syria where personnel, armed personnel carriers, tanks and anti-aircraft weapons have arrived in the recent days. Russia said it plans to fight IS in conjunction with Syria's military. Kerry said he warned Lavrov that Russia's increased involvement and longtime support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could backfire.

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"I made clear that Russia's continued support for Assad risks escalating the conflict and undermining our shared goal of fighting extremism," Kerry said.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest on Wednesday did not rule out the conversation, saying "we would welcome constructive Russian support for the efforts of the anti-ISIL coalition in Iraq and in Syria."

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