Russia’s top diplomat held talks with his U.S. counterpart after President Vladimir Putin derided American policy on Syria as weak and lacking objectives, while his air force continued bombing raids to support Bashar al-Assad’s government.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry discussed the situation in Syria by phone on Thursday and expressed satisfaction on the progress of military talks to improve “security in the Syrian airspace in the context of anti-terrorist actions,” the Foreign Ministry in Moscow said in a website statement. They agreed to continue contacts on Syria and on resolving the Ukrainian conflict, it said.

Amid growing friction over the Russian military intervention that began Sept. 30, the U.S. rejected Putin’s offer to send a delegation led by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to Washington to explain the campaign against Islamic State and other militants, Lavrov said on Wednesday. Putin accused some states of having “oatmeal in their heads” on Tuesday for failing to understand that the air strikes seek to defeat terrorism. “I don’t really understand how the U.S. can criticize Russia’s actions in Syria if they refuse to have direct dialogue,” Putin told reporters earlier Thursday during a visit to Astana, Kazakhstan. “The basic weakness of the American position is that they don’t have an agenda, though we’re keeping the door open” for high-level discussions, he said. CONTINUE