“The president believes that a mil-to-mil conversation is an important next step,” Mr. Kerry said, “and I think, hopefully, will take place very shortly.”
Shortly after Mr. Kerry spoke, the Pentagon announced that Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter had spoken by telephone with Sergei K. Shoigu, the Russian minister of defense. It was Mr. Carter’s first discussion with his Russian counterpart since he became defense secretary seven months ago. The two men agreed to continue discussions on “mechanisms for deconfliction” in Syria, the Pentagon said in a statement.
The Pentagon described it as “a constructive conversation.” The Pentagon press secretary, Peter Cook, said the two men had “talked about areas where the United States and Russia’s perspectives overlap, and areas of divergence.”
The initial purpose of the talks with Russia, Mr. Kerry said in London, will be to help “define some of the different options that are available to us as we consider next steps in Syria.”