Lavrov Sees Constructive U.S. Administration After Kerry Talks

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said President Barack Obama’s second term will be “constructive” after he held his first meeting with newly appointed U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Berlin.

“It feels like the second administration of Barack Obama will aim to play a more constructive role when it comes to its foreign policy agenda led by John Kerry,” Lavrov told reporters after meeting with Kerry today in the German capital.

The two officials had a “really serious and hard working session” for an hour and 45 minutes, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said as Kerry headed to Paris as part of his first official trip, to Europe and the Middle East.

Kerry and Lavrov discussed trying to end the conflict in Syria as the parties prepare for an international meeting in Rome on Feb. 28 aimed at resolving the crisis. Lavrov urged the Syrian opposition to join talks that included the government in Damascus “as soon as possible.”

“The opposition has been making pretty contradictory statements about it,” Lavrov said. Still, “I think we are doing all we can to start that,” the Russian minister said.

Kerry earlier today said Syrian rebels should be given aid if President Bashar al-Assad refuses to join talks and goes on killing his own people.

“If the president of the country decides he isn’t going to come and negotiate and he’s just going to kill his people, then you at least need to provide some support for the people who are fighting” for their freedom, Kerry said in remarks to students in the German capital. He didn’t specify what support he meant.