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Foreign Ministers Lavrov and Tillerson, Generals Dunford and Gerasimov, Discuss Cooperation in Syria

May 6, 2017 (EIRNS)—De facto cooperation between Russia and the Trump Administration concerning Syria is obviously going forward. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has even characterized the de-escalation zones agreed upon at this week’s Syrian cease-fire conference in Astana as being based on ideas put forward by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson earlier this year. Furthermore Lavrov spoke by telephone on May 5 with Tillerson to discuss Syria, and Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chief of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford and Russian Chief of General Staff Gen. Valery Gerasimov also spoke today by phone.

"The focus was made on the topic of the Syrian settlement," a Russian Foreign Ministry statement said about the Lavrov-Tillerson discussion.

"In the light of the results of the international meeting on Syria in Astana on May 3-4, the two top diplomats discussed the tasks of de-escalating the situation in that country, ensuring sustainability of the ceasefire, building up anti-terror efforts and enlivening external support to the intra-Syrian negotiating process. The sides also discussed a number of other regional problems and issues of the bilateral agenda. The two top diplomats agreed to continue Russian-U.S. contacts."

On the de-escalation zones, Lavrov told MIR TV:

"The United States proposed at the beginning of this year, with a view to creating conditions to ensure safety of civilian population, to stop violence in those regions where fierce fighting was underway between government and armed opposition forces. It is not by chance that the United States welcomed the results of the meeting in Astana, specifically, an agreement on setting up de-escalation zones,"

he was quoted as saying by Iran’s FARS news service.

Meanwhile Russia, Turkey and Iran will form a joint working group on "de-escalation zones" in Syria in two weeks, in order to delineate the lines of the de-escalation areas and security zones, as well as to resolve other operational and technical issues. This includes preparing maps of security zones and de-escalation areas within a month by June 4, according to the document seen by the Hürriyet Daily News.

The four zones went into effect today after midnight.

"Creation of the de-escalation areas and security zones is a temporary measure, the duration of which will initially be six months and will be automatically extended on the basis of consensus of the guarantors,"

read the document.

According to RT, the Defense Ministry report on the call between Dunford and Gerasimov confirmed the deconfliction arrangement which had been temporarily canceled after the April 6 U.S. air strike on the Syrian airbase, but also agreed to "additional measures to prevent conflict situations during joint operations against ISIS and al Nusra."

This striking statement was not elaborated, but confirms the Russia and the U.S. are moving towards more direct cooperation in the war on terror.

U.S. Joint Chiefs spokesman Capt. Greg Hicks confirmed in a statement that Dunford and Gerasimov

"talked about the recent Astana agreement and affirmed their commitment to de-conflicting operations in Syria. Both also agreed to maintain regular contact."