In a further sign of possible US and Russian cooperation over Syria it has been reported that Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are to meet to discuss the conflict. The Russian news agency Interfax quoting Moscow’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said the pair would hold talks in Germany in the coming days, without specifying where exactly or under what circumstances.
Moscow has welcomed the appointment of Tillerson as the top US diplomat. Prior to accepting the role he was chief executive of oil giant Exxon Mobile and had close ties with the Russian oil industry. Tillerson has called for closer ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Meanwhile, on the ground in Syria
Turkish-backed opposition fighters claim to have made progress in their offensive against so-called Islam State militants in al Bab, near the Turkish border. Turkey says the aim of its operation in Syria is to drive the jihadists out of the entire border region, including the ISIL stronghold of Raqqa.
Turkey has also forged stronger diplomatic ties with Russia in a bid to achieve its goals in Syria. The two countries, along with Iran, are behind the latest peace initiative to end the civil war that has claimed several hundred thousand lives since it erupted in 2011.