September 18, 2015 / 1:44 PM / 4 years ago

U.S. sees military talks with Russia on Syria as important next step - Kerry

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry steps off his plane after arriving at London' Stansted Airport for meetings on the ongoing Syrian crisis, on Friday, Sept. 18, 2015. REUTERS/Evan Vucci

LONDON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama believes that military talks with Russia on Syria is an important next step and hopes they will take place very shortly, Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday.

“The president believes that mil-to-mil conversation is an important next step and hopefully will take place very shortly and help to define some of the different options available to us as we consider next steps in Syria,” Kerry said at the start of talks with United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed in London.

“Our focus remains on destroying ISIL (Islamic State militants) and also on a political settlement with respect to Syria, which we believe cannot be achieved with the long-term presence of (President Bashar al-) Assad,” Kerry told reporters. “We’re looking for ways in which to find a common ground.”

Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Writing by Elizabeth Piper; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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