Kerry sees some Syria progress, Russia criticises US

Kerry and Lavrov pose for a photo at  the United Nations in Manhattan, New York, on Sept 23, 2016.
Kerry and Lavrov pose for a photo at the United Nations in Manhattan, New York, on Sept 23, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

UNITED NATIONS, United States (REUTERS) - The United States said it made a little progress on halting the violence in the Syrian war in talks with Russia on Friday (Sept 23) as Moscow blasted Washington for throwing its weight around the world.

"I met with the (Russian) foreign minister, we exchanged some ideas and we had a little bit of progress. We're evaluating some mutual ideas in a constructive way," US Secretary of State John Kerry said before a meeting Asia-Pacific ministers on the sidelines of the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations.

However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov used his nation's speech at the UN General Assembly to launch veiled attacks against the United States, quoting George Orwell's book Animal Farm to accuse Washington of saying all animals are equal but acting as if some are "more equal" than others.

"In the modern world, it is impossible to be guided by the philosophy of (the) antiheroes of George Orwell's anti-utopia Animal Farm where all animals are equal but some are more equal," Lavrov said without directly citing the United States.

"In the enlightened twenty-first century, it is simply indecent to mentor everyone around, reserving for oneself the right to use doping or launch unilateral adventures bypassing the UN, or conduct geopolitical experiments that cost millions of human lives," he added.

Lavrov was apparently referring to tensions around accusations that Russian and US athletes had taken performance-enhancing drugs and the US-led wars in the Middle East.

A Russian-US ceasefire agreement that was reached on Sept 9 and went into effect on Sept 12 collapsed on Monday with an attack on a humanitarian aid convoy near Aleppo that killed about 20 people.

The United States said Russian aircraft made the attack, while Russia denied involvement and the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad, whom Russia supports, blamed "terrorists."

The United States and Russia are on opposite sides of the five-and-a-half-year-old war in which more than 400,000 people have died and 11 million been displaced.