U.S. Suspends Bilateral Talks With Russia on Syria

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Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the G20 summit in China, on Sept. 5, 2016.
Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the G20 summit in China, on Sept. 5, 2016. Credit: Alexei Druzhinin/AP

The United States said on Monday it was suspending talks with Russia on trying to end the violence in Syria and accused Moscow of not living up to its commitments under a cease-fire agreement.

"The United States is suspending its participation in bilateral channels with Russia that were established to sustain the cessation of hostilities," U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement. "This is not a decision that was taken lightly."

The move comes after last week's threat by Secretary of State John Kerry to suspend contacts amid new attacks on the city of Aleppo.

The department said in the statement Monday that Russia had not met the terms of an agreement last month to restore the cease-fire and ensure sustained deliveries of humanitarian aid to besieged cities.

Moscow, in turn, accused the U.S. of trying to shift blame onto Russia. Foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Washington had not fulfilled key aspects of a cease-fire deal brokered with Moscow, and that Russia had taken steps in recent days to sustain that deal.  

As part of the suspension, the U.S. is withdrawing personnel that it had dispatched to take part in the creation of a joint U.S.-Russia center. That center was to have coordinated military cooperation and intelligence if the cease-fire had taken hold. The suspension will not affect communications between the two countries aimed at de-conflicting counter-terrorism operations in Syria.

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