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Russia and US seek end to Syria violence
February 27, 2013, 2:00 am

Lavrov: The Syrian civil war can only be solved through talks [Getty Images]

Lavrov: The Syrian civil war can only be solved through talks [Getty Images]

Moscow and Washington will do “everything possible” to facilitate a dialogue between the Syrian government and the armed opposition, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said Tuesday, following his first bilateral meeting with US secretary of state John Kerry in Berlin.

“No one will solve the Syrians’ problems for them, but in order for this solution to be discussed, it’s necessary to sit down at the negotiating table,” Lavrov said following the nearly two-hour meeting with Kerry in the German capital.

Lavrov said issues related to the so-called Arab Spring were high on the agenda between the two senior officials. They discussed continuing co-operation over Iran’s nuclear program, the Korean peninsula’s demilitarization status following the North’s recent nuclear test, Afghanistan, and the Middle East peace process.

“Regarding Syria, the most important thing is that we confirmed our mutual understanding that the continuation of violence is unacceptable,” Lavrov said.

Lavrow described the meeting as positive and said it was indicative of the spirit of partnership that existed between the two countries, despite controversial issues such as the Magnitsky Act, passed by Congress in 2012.

The Act punishes Russian persons believed to be involved in the death of Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer who had been investigating tax fraud by senior Russian officials.

“There is a sense that Barack Obama’s second administration, with regards to foreign policy led by John Kerry, will strive to play a more constructive role,” Lavrov said.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks in bilateral relations has been Moscow’s adoption ban on US families seeking Russian children.

Lavrov said Kerry vowed to personally take measures to ensure transparency with regards to Russian children adopted by US parents.

Citing numerous abuse cases and fatalities involving adopted Russian children in the United States, Moscow last month banned US citizens from adopting Russian children in what some see as a response the Magnitsky Act.

The Russian foreign minister also denied media reports that the two countries would exchange declarations on missile defence.

Agencies, with additional reporting by Daria Chernyshova in Moscow.