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Kerry Calls Talks With Lavrov On Syria, Ukraine 'Productive'

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (right) welcomes U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry prior to their talks in Moscow on March 24.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says his talks with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, on the Syria and Ukraine crises have been "productive."

"Spoke at length today with FM Lavrov about #Syria and #Ukraine," Kerry said on Twitter on March 24. "Productive dialogue with important partner."

Kerry earlier said a "fragile" cessation of hostilities in Syria had "produced some progress," adding that he wanted to see a further reduction as well as greater flows of humanitarian aid.

Lavrov said he intended to discuss "how the international community can assist in the settlement of the Ukrainian crisis."

Kerry will also meet with President Vladimir Putin.

During the talks, the secretary of state is expected to gauge whether the Russian leadership is ready to discuss ways to ease Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power.

On Ukraine, he is expected to call on Moscow to do more to press Russian-backed separatists in the country's east to comply with a cease-fire.

Meanwhile, Kerry wished Lavrov a happy birthday, and jokingly called on him to respect his elders.

As the pair sat down in Moscow, Kerry said he hoped Lavrov’s 66th birthday earlier this week "will bring you extra wisdom, in our conversation."

"Thank you, John,” the Russian top diplomat responded to the 72-year-old secretary of state. “But if wisdom is measured by the number of birthdays, I can't catch up with you."

To which Kerry retorted, "As long as you respect your elders."

"Absolutely," Lavrov said.

Lavrov was born on March 21, 1950, and Kerry on December 11, 1943.

Based on reporting by Reuters, TASS, AFP, and Interfax