US: John Kerry To Hold Talks With Vladimir Putin

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, pictured, accompanied by Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, speaks at a joint news conference at the Chief of Mission Residence, Paris, France, Friday, May 8, 2015, following a meeting with the foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council. REUTERS/Andrew Harnik/Pool - RTX1C5BT

John Kerry will travel to Russia on Tuesday for talks with President Vladimir Putin to try to fix relations soured by the Ukraine and Syria crises.

The US Secretary of State will meet Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

It will be his first trip to Russia since the start of the conflict in Ukraine in April 2014, which has seen Russia seize control of Crimea.

In a statement, Russia’s foreign ministry said it hoped Mr Kerry’s visit would “normalise bilateral relations on which global stability largely depends”.

Russian news agency RIA Novosti has said the two will also discuss Yemen and Iran.

Western nations have accused Russia of supporting separatists in Ukraine as sporadic clashes between government and rebel forces continue in the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions, despite a ceasefire agreement in February.

Moscow has repeatedly denied the claims.

The foreign ministry accused the US  of being behind the unrest in Ukraine and said Washington was pursuing a policy of trying to isolate Russia on the international stage.

Last month, US and Ukrainian troops staged joint training exercises – dubbed Fearless Guardian 2015 – which triggered an angry reaction from Russia.

More than 8,000 people have died in the conflict.

Relations have also been tested after Russia announced last month it was lifting a five-year ban on selling the S-300 air defence missile system to Iran and Moscow has defied international pressure to remain in support of President Bashar al Assad.

Russia has been the subject of biting sanctions by the West over its stance on Ukraine.

It comes after Saudia Arabia’s King Salman revealed he would not be attending a Camp David summit between US President Barack Obama and allied Arab leaders.

The talks, with the six members of the Gulf Co-operation Council, are expected to focus on Iran’s growing influence in the region.

Qaboos bin Said, the Sultan of Oman, is also not attending the summit on Thursday as is the President of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Last week, Mr Kerry paid a surprise visit to Somalia in a show of solidarity for the embattled nation.