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Russia applauds cooperation with US over Syria

IMAGE: GREG BAKER/AFP/GETTY IMAGE

IMAGE: GREG BAKER/AFP/GETTY IMAGE<br />

Russia’s defence ministry on Wednesday applauded Moscow and Washington’s cooperation over Syria as a truce brokered by the two nations was tested by a recent spike in violence.

“Overall, we positively assess the cooperation with the United States in Syria,” defence minister Sergei Shoigu said at an international security conference in Moscow.

“Our bilateral agreements on the prevention of incidents in the airspace are working, the military structures responsible for the reconciling the parties are interacting.”

Shoigu said Moscow and Washington “must cooperate more closely” in the fight against international terrorism.

“We are ready for this,” he said. “The ball is in Washington’s court.”

In a phone call last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Barack Obama agreed to work to strengthen the ceasefire which took effect on February 27.

After taking hold, the landmark partial ceasefire dramatically reduced violence across much of Syria, raising hopes that a lasting deal to end the bloodshed could be struck at peace talks in Geneva.

But a series of recent deadly air strikes and shellings have undermined the frail truce.

On Tuesday, 25 civilians were reportedly killed in air strikes and shelling on Syria’s second city Aleppo and a town to its west, in a new test for the troubled ceasefire.

Earlier this month, Syria’s main opposition group, the High Negotiations Committee, halted its formal participation in the Geneva talks over surging violence on the ground.

The Kremlin said both Putin and Obama had stressed the “significance” of the Geneva talks and the two also agreed that their security services and defence ministries would ramp up cooperation over Syria.



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