John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, has called on Russia to help bring a "political settlement" to Syria to help stem the flow of refugees to Western Europe. Kerry is meeting Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond MP in London for talks on a number of issues including Libya, Ukraine, Yemen and how to combat defeating Islamic State (Isis) jihadists.
Kerry is on a three-day visit to the UK. He said that these discussions are setting a groundwork ahead of talks set to take place in New York.
"Russia appears to be more committed to doing more against Isil [Isis] to find ways to move to move to a political settlement," he told reporters. "The Foreign Secretary and I agreed completely on the urgency of nations coming together in order to resolve this war that has gone on for much too long.
"That is what we're looking for and we hope Russia and Iran, and any other countries with influence, will help to bring about that, because that's what is preventing this crisis from ending.
"We're prepared to negotiate. Is Assad prepared to negotiate, really negotiate? Is Russia prepared to bring him to the table?"
Syria talks begin
Kerry has said there had been initial talks between the US and Russia yesterday about the conflict in Syria and the rise of IS. He declared the discussions an important first step to avoid coming into conflict with Vladimir Putin in Syria, according to the BBC.
Earlier on this month Kerry expressed his concern over Russia's latest plan for military intervention in Syria. He told his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov during a telephone conversation that if Moscow becomes involved in the Syrian conflict it is bound to escalate tensions.
Syria has been engulfed in intense violence since 2011. What started as an uprising against Assad has snowballed into a full-fledged civil war, with no end in sight and fleeing refugees arriving by the thousands each day in Western Europe, and millions in neighbouring Jordan and Turkey.
US to help refugee crisis
Kerry also said that the US will provide more to help Europe deal with the refugee crisis. On Saturday, 19 September, he said: "It is clear that the challenge [combatting the refugee crisis] is not only to continental Europe but to everybody.
"The migrant population of refugees seeking a better life cannot be properly addressed just by addressing the numbers of refugees coming into a country. It has to be addressed by addressing the root cause – that is the violence in Syria and the lack of hope and the lack of a future that so many people in that region feel as a consequence of the violence that is taking place."
During the meeting with Hammond, they also discussed the crisis in Libya. He said: "Isil and other extremist groups take advantage of a vacuum and a vacuum is what is left if there is not an agreement.
North Africa's 'humanitarian catastrophe'
"So we need for the sake of the six million citizens in Libya where there is great opportunity and significant wealth available to help that country bind its wounds and move forward. We hope that they will make the right choices in the days ahead."
Conservative MP Hammond said that the pair had talked about how they could avoid a humanitarian catastrophe in the North African state. "We have talked primarily about the situation in Syria," he said, "and the migration crisis that is affecting Europe, and we have talked about how to move forward with our partners in response to recent developments in Syria to tackle the growing threat from Isil [Isis]."
The Colorado-born former senator also took the time to thank Hammond and his team for their "tremendous" help in negotiating the Iran nuclear agreement. "It was a great example of multilateral agreement," he said.