US Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday rejected Russian charges Washington was stalling talks on a rebel withdrawal from the Syrian city of Aleppo in order to buy them time.
“I’m not aware of any specific refusal,” Kerry said when asked about Moscow’s charges as he attended a NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels.
Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov earlier Tuesday accused the United States of bad faith over Aleppo where President Bashar al-Assad’s forces have gained significant ground in a Moscow-backed offensive.
“It looks like an attempt to buy time for the rebels to have a breather, take a pause and replenish their reserves,” Lavrov said.
Moscow had the impression “a serious discussion with our American partners isn’t working out,” he added.
Lavrov on Monday said Russia and the US would meet in Switzerland on either Tuesday or Wednesday to discuss a proposal put forward by Kerry last week on a complete rebel withdrawal from eastern Aleppo.
The rebels dismissed any withdrawal, prompting Lavrov to warn that “they will be destroyed” if they stay.
Russia and China on Monday vetoed a UN Security Council resolution calling for a seven-day ceasefire in Aleppo.
Lavrov and Kerry have met repeatedly to try and find a solution to the Syrian conflict but to no avail.