Kerry to Meet With Putin as Russia Continues Drawdown in Syria
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry plans to travel to Moscow next week for talks with Russian Vladimir Putin about the drawdown and the new push for peace in Syria.
Kerry said he would talk with both Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov about how to move forward with the process of bringing a political solution to the five-year conflict.
Fighting in Syria has drastically declined with a cessation of hostilities in place for about three weeks.
But Kerry also warned that lasting peace is impossible if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad remains in power.
The first Russian troops to leave Syria arrived back home Tuesday to cheering crowds.
Putin made the surprise announcement Monday that the bulk of his forces will leave now that they have achieved their mission in Syria, which began in late September.
EU Migration Chief Pleads for Open Borders
The European Union migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulus is pleading with Balkan countries to open their borders to more than 13,000 refugees trapped for weeks on the Greece-Macedonia border, saying asylum-seekers fleeing violence in the Middle East deserve respect.
Hours before his visit to the overwhelmed camp at Idomeni, Greece, more than 1,000 refugees forded a fast-moving stream five kilometers west to cross into Macedonia illegally, with another 500 following also trying to breach the border.
Macedonia's Interior Ministry says steps are already in hand to improve security where the refugees crossed Monday.
The refugees at Idomeni are becoming more desperate as they struggle to secure sufficient food and medicine for their increasingly ill children. Many still cling to the hope the Macedonians will open the border, which was closed February 21, and other Balkans countries will follow, allowing them to be among the last to travel north before a provisional deal between the European Union and Turkey comes into effect that would return refugees who have crossed the Aegean Sea to Turkey.
Details of the deal, which has provoked the anger of U.N. refugee chiefs and rights groups, are to be finalized March 17. The U.N. refugee agency has warned any blanket return may violate international law and warns there is little sign of any let up in Syrian and Iraqi refugees planning to cross the Aegean.