US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter (L) and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph F. Dunford speak to the media at a news conference in the Pentagon briefing room on July 25, 2016 in Arlington, Virginia. (AFP)
United States Defense Secretary Ashton Carter says his country’s stance on Syria is still far from that of Russia.
Carter made the remarks on Monday amid ongoing discussions led by US Secretary of State John Kerry over a military agreement between Washington and Moscow.
Kerry’s talks were aimed at seeing whether "it's possible... for the Russians to begin to do the right thing in Syria," Carter claimed.
"We had hoped that they would promote a political solution and transition to put an end to the civil war which is the beginning of all this violence in Syria," he said.
However, "they're a long way from doing that," he added, noting, "But that's what Secretary Kerry's trying to promote."
On July 14, Kerry traveled to Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and discuss an American military deal in Syria with Russia.
Kerry announced a proposal that calls for both Washington and Moscow to share intelligence to coordinate air strikes against the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front and ban the Syrian air force from attacking so-called moderate rebel groups fighting against the government of Bashar al-Assad.
However, the proposal is coming under criticism from US officials, European allies, and the rebels in Syria, who consider the plan to be naive for placing trust in Russia.
Kerry, nonetheless, has defended the plan, saying "the president of the United States has authorized and ordered this track."
Meanwhile, Marine General Joseph Dunford said Monday, “We’re not entering into a transaction that is based on trust.”
“There will be specific procedures and processes in any transaction that we might have with the Russians that would account for protecting our operational security,” added Dunford, who is the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
At a news conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow last week, Kerry announced that Russia and the US had established a common understanding of steps required to bring peace back to Syria.
The Muslim country has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura estimates that over 400,000 people have been killed in the conflict.