US not co­op­er­at­ing with Rus­sia against Is­lamic State: Carter

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY LOLITA C. BAL­DOR

U. S. De­fense Sec­re­tary Ash Carter said Wed­nes­day the U.S.led coali­tion has not agreed to co­op­er­ate with Rus­sia in the fight against the Is­lamic State and no col­lab­o­ra­tion is pos­si­ble as long as Moscow con­tin­ues to strike other tar­gets.

He said the U.S. will con­duct ba­sic, tech­ni­cal talks with Rus­sia about ef­forts to en­sure that flights over Syria are con­ducted safely, and, “That’s it.”

Carter spoke dur­ing a press con­fer­ence in Rome with Ital­ian De­fense Min­is­ter Roberta Pinotti. The United States, Carter said, not pre­pared to co­op­er­ate

is with a strat­egy of Rus­sia’s that is “trag­i­cally flawed.”

“They con­tinue to hit tar­gets that are not ISIL,” Carter said, us­ing an acro­nym for the Is­lamic State group. “We be­lieve that is a fun­da­men­tal mis­take.”

Carter said he is con­cerned about the Syr­ian ground of­fen­sive that be­gan Wed­nes­day backed by Rus­sian air­power. Rus­sia, which backs Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad, has hit Western- backed rebels fight­ing As­sad. The U.S. main­tains that the only route to peace in Syria is to re­move As­sad from power.

Rus­sia on Tues­day in­formed the United States that Moscow is will­ing to con­tinue talks to en­sure that the two coun­tries’ air­craft don’t in­ter­fere with each other, U. S. of­fi­cials said. But a Rus­sian de­fense of­fi­cial said the talks should be much broader than what the Pen­tagon is seek­ing.

The U.S. De­fense Depart­ment wants talks aimed at mak­ing sure there are no con­flicts, col­li­sions or other prob­lems as the U. S.- led coali­tion and the Rus­sians fly over Syria. The U.S. side has pro­posed a num­ber of safety mea­sures, in­clud­ing us­ing spe­cific in­ter­na­tional ra­dio fre­quen­cies for dis­tress calls by mil­i­tary pilots fly­ing in Syr­ian airspace.

Carter had called on Rus­sian lead­ers to con­tact the Pen­tagon im­me­di­ately to dis­cuss Moscow’s mil­i­tary ac­tiv­i­ties in Syria, re­flect­ing ur­gent con­cerns about Rus­sian air­craft vi­o­lat­ing Turk­ish airspace. NATO on Mon­day de­nounced Rus­sia for “ir­re­spon­si­ble be­hav­ior” for al­low­ing its war­planes to cross into Tur­key.

Rus­sian Deputy De­fense Min­is­ter Ana­toly Antonov said the Rus­sians want broad dis­cus­sions on in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion be­tween Rus­sia and the U. S.led coali­tion fight­ing the Is­lamic State, but “re­gret­tably, the Amer­i­cans would like to limit our co­op­er­a­tion to tech­ni­cal is­sues re­lat­ing to in­ter­ac­tion be­tween our pilots.”

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