"The Russians want a settlement that would keep (Syrian President Bashar al-)Assad or some replacement acceptable to them in power", said a defence official, who like others who discussed the schism in the administration agreed to do so only on condition of anonymity. The U.S. State Department hasn't commented, but Kerry will be in Russian Federation this week to discuss Syria and other issues. "We haven't seen that thus far, but we're having another go at this".
While some US officials downplay the military significance of what is now being offered to Russian Federation, the symbolic effect is clear.
The State Department said Monday that Kerry would visit Moscow on Thursday to discuss ways to strengthen a shaky truce in Syria that appears near the breaking point amid continued violence.
The State Department said Kerry would speak with senior Russian officials about Syria and Ukraine, as well as tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorny-Karabakh region.
Pentagon officials are pushing back against the Obama administration's plan to strengthen military cooperation between the United States and Russian Federation in the fight against terrorist groups in Syria. Neither group has yet been designated as terrorist organizations by the U.S. government.
Russia's Foreign Ministry said that Russia-US relations "remain hard", having "seriously suffered" from Washington's "unfriendly moves" since early 2014, when Western sanctions were initiated against Moscow in connection with the Ukrainian crisis.
Kerry made the remarks at a dinner in Washington to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, shortly before he was due to set off on a tour of European capitals.
Kerry is trying to reverse a trend in which he has hailed a series of agreements with the Russians only for them to fall short, according to officials with knowledge of internal American deliberations.