Secretary of State John Kerry met with his Russian counterpart in Brunei today, saying afterward that they talked about fugitive NSA leaker Edward Snowden but didn’t really talk about him because that’s not their area of expertise.
Snowden is holed up in Moscow’s airport while seeking asylum from Russia and other countries.
“I thought the meeting I had with Secretary Lavrov merited saying a few words because I think it was constructive and very useful, and I think we both agreed with that. We discussed a wide range of issues, but we obviously focused mostly on the issue of Syria,” Kerry said after the meeting with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
“I did raise the issue of, obviously, Mr. Snowden, but that is not his portfolio. It’s being handled – nor is it mine directly because it’s being handled within the Justice Department,” Kerry continued.
“So it is fair to say that we didn’t discuss any substantive progress, but I certainly raised, from our point of view, how it fits within the context of our relationship. But again, not his portfolio, and so it wasn’t discussed in a way that he would be able to take any action on it, though I hope he will communicate the views that I expressed.”
On Syria, Kerry said they had a “very in-depth conversation.” Russia is the main arms supplier to Bashar al-Assad.
“I thought it was important to note that Foreign Minister Lavrov believes, as I do, and as I think President Obama and President Putin believe, that there are two countries that can have the most significant difference on this question, and they are Russia and the United States. We agreed that we are both serious, more than serious – committed to the Geneva process, and we both agreed that our countries have an ability to be able to make a difference if we can pull together in that effort,” he said.
“It was constructive, it was conducted in a constructive way, and our objective remains the same; that is, to recognize the notion that there really isn’t a military victory per se in Syria that keeps Syria as a country, and number two that we have an obligation to try to work towards a peaceful resolution because a peaceful settlement is the best way to save the state of Syria and to minimize the destruction. That commitment remains a solid one between both of us.”
Kerry didn’t take questions because of his “very, very tight schedule.”