By Jeremy Herb - 08/09/13 04:11 PM EDT
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said U.S. and Russian officials need to "work as grown-ups."
Following a meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry and defense officials from both countries, the two sides talked about resolving differences despite chilled relations.
The meeting between Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and their Russian counterparts came just two days after President Obama canceled a bilateral summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The impetus for the canceled meeting was Russia's decision to give temporary asylum to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, though the two countries have many other differences as well.
Lavrov did not specifically mention Snowden in his remarks, but he noted that Kerry told him their countries have a “special responsibility” in their first conversation after Kerry became secretary of State.
“So we need to work as grown-ups,” Lavrov said through a translator. “This is what we do, and we hope this will be reciprocal.”
The talks at the State Department focused on the conflict in Syria, missile defense and Afghanistan — and were scheduled despite the fallout from Moscow granting Snowden asylum.
Kerry and Hagel met with Lavrov and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.
Kerry acknowledged that the two countries have “challenging moments,” noting that the disagreements went beyond just the Snowden case.
“We will discuss these differences today for certain. But this meeting remains important above and beyond the collisions and moments of disagreement,” Kerry said.
Both Kerry and Lavrov talked about the two-year civil war in Syria, where the Russians have backed Syrian President Bashar Assad and the United States supports the opposition. Lavrov said that Syria was the “top priority”
Earlier this year, Kerry and Lavrov announced a conference to try to find a political solution to the conflict, though not much has materialized from it yet.