The series of terror strikes by the Islamic State — in Paris, Beirut and the downing of the Russian plane in Egypt — may bring Russia and the U.S. closer in counterterrorism operation. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, after a meeting of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) in Vienna on Saturday said they expected cooperation to be more effective and broader in the coming days in tackling IS terror.
The US-led NATO had in April 2014 suspended military and civilian cooperation with Russia, in response to its military intervention in Ukraine. “Political channels of communication remain open,” according to NATO website.
U.S. and Russia are working together in the ISSG to promote a political process to end the civil war in Syria but both are at loggerheads on the question of President Bashar al-Assad’s future. U.S. has been accusing Russia of bombing moderate anti-Assad rebels and civilian targets along with its anti-IS raids.
That discord could be overcome and both countries may coordinate their war on the IS, Mr Kerry and Mr Lavrov indicated. Asked whether the terror strikes over the last few days formed “enough basis for resuming in full the counterterrorism cooperation, which had been frozen,” Mr. Kerry said: “We, I think, discussed some options that we have available to us…. I’ll be meeting President Obama tomorrow in Turkey at the G20. I will discuss those with our security team and with the President, and we’ll see if we can follow up in a way that does make sense.”
“Of course, we discussed it today… We are convinced that coordination is in the interests of us and all humanity. We should not allow terrorists to take over the region just because U.S., Russia, and the rest of the world cannot agree on some things,” Mr. Lavrov said, according to a release by the U.S. State Department.
The Secretary of State said that once the political process gets moving — ISSG aims to have a new government in place in Syria through an election under a new constitution in 18 months — it would open “enormous possibilities for other cooperation.”
“And on the data and the intelligence and counterterrorism overall, I think it’s always better when all countries are cooperating and able to work together,” Mr. Kerry said.
Acknowledging that the U.S.-led coalition and Russia have concerns regarding each other’s operation, Mr. Lavrov said the best way to deal with it was to “sit down together to have a meaningful, specific conversation — with maps, with specific targets.”