President Barack Obama says U.S. and Russian negotiators are working ‘around the clock’ to try to strike a deal to reduce violence in Syria.
Obama, speaking on the sidelines of the Group of 20 economic summit in China, said the U.S. and Russia still have ‘grave differences’ about what’s needed to end Syria’s civil war and which opposition groups are legitimate targets for the U.S. and Russian militaries.
But he said ‘it is worth trying’ to secure an agreement nonetheless.
‘We’re not there yet,’ Obama said. ‘I think it’s premature for us to say there’s a clear path forward, but there’s the possibility at least for us to make some progress.’
Obama’s comments came as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov are deep in talks over a deal to boost U.S. and Russian military cooperation to fight ISIS and other extremists in Syria – a step Moscow has long sought.
The emerging deal is expected to also include provisions to ensure aid can reach besieged areas of Syria and steps to prevent Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government from bombing areas where U.S.-backed rebels are operating.