Secretary of State John Kerry believes the U.S. and Russia are making progress toward a framework for military cooperation in Syria, and hopes the two powers will be able to announce some kind of initial agreement by August.
"I think we're making progress, and I want to thank [Defense] Secretary [Ash] Carter and [Joint Chiefs] Chairman [Joseph] Dunford, whose people helped contribute to the homework that we have done so far," Kerry said in Laos Tuesday.
"[M]y hope would be that somewhere in early August in the first week or so, who knows, somewhere in there, we would be in a position to be able to stand up in front of you and tell you what we're able to do, with the hopes that it can make a difference to the lives of people in Syria and to the course of the war," he added.
The Obama administration had been rejecting the idea of a joint U.S.-Russia effort for months, but changed its tune in July. Even so, the State Department rejected the idea that this somehow represented a shift in U.S. policy.
Kerry described the ongoing negotiations as an attempt to find a framework deal that "allows us to actually get to the table and have a real negotiation." He said he had a "good" discussion with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday, and said the two countries intend to keep holding discussions "quietly."
"[T]oday, Foreign Minister Lavrov and I talked about the next piece of homework that needs to be completed before we would be prepared to make a public announcement," Kerry said.
Kerry also said he raised Russia's alleged hacking of Democratic National Committee files by Russia, but only said he raised the question, and had no other comment given the FBI's ongoing investigation of the matter.