US-Russian Tension Ahead of Geneva Summit

US-Russian Tension Ahead of Geneva Summit

Thursday, 23 August, 2018 - 06:15
US National Security Advisor John Bolton speaks during a news conference in Jerusalem, August 22, 2018. Reuters
Moscow - Raed Jabr
Tension between Washington and Moscow grew on Wednesday following statements delivered by US National Security Adviser John Bolton, who said Russia was “stuck” in Syria.

The comments came ahead of an expected meeting between Bolton and his Russian counterpart Nikolai Patrushev.

The two officials are due to hold talks in Geneva on Thursday in the first such meeting since the summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Donald Trump in Helsinki last month.

"The worsening of bilateral relations is continuing. We need to identify some kind of areas for cooperation and also to understand if there are any such areas and whether our counterpart (the United States) has a desire for this," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call Wednesday.

According to TASS, Patrushev plans to bring Bolton a set of proposals on cooperation between Moscow and Washington, and is optimistic of US consent.

During a trip to Israel on Wednesday, Bolton told Reuters that Russian forces were "stuck" in Syria and that Moscow was looking for other countries to fund post-war reconstruction there.

However, Peskov said Moscow disagreed with Bolton's statement, adding that Russia was helping facilitate the return of refugees to Syria and start the reconstruction process.

"The statement that Russia is stuck is not correct, even more so coming from our colleagues in Washington. We shouldn't forget that American soldiers are also on Syrian territory," said Peskov.

Meanwhile, Kommersant daily newspaper wrote Wednesday that Bolton stressed that Iran’s pullout from Syria was a precondition for any US-Russian cooperation on the war-torn country and other pending issues.

Bolton has claimed that Putin has asked to discuss the issue with the US because his interests in Syria contradicted with that of Iran, said the report.

Peskov said, however, that “the Iranian presence in Syria was not discussed during the Russian-US talks.”

On the eve of the planned meeting in Geneva between Patrushev and Bolton, Putin said at a news conference he held with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto in the Black Sea resort of Sochi that US sanctions against Russia were "counterproductive and senseless."

He added: “I hope that one day our American partners will realize that this policy [of sanctions] has no prospects, and we will start to cooperate as normal.”

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