Washington: The United States and Russia could find ways to cooperate on the crisis in Syria, Pentagon chief Ashton Carter said Thursday, as Moscow continues a military build-up in the war-torn nation.
Russia has in recent weeks sent hundreds of troops, as well as fighter jets, artillery and other military hardware to the Latakia region in northwestern Syria, leaving Washington wondering if -- or when -- Russia will intervene in the four-and-a-half-year civil war on behalf of its ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Carter said if Russia were to fight Islamic State jihadists while also pursuing a political solution to the crisis, and not just "indiscriminately" attack foes of Assad, the United States and Moscow might find ways of working together.
"On a course like that, it is possible that we could find areas of cooperation," Carter told reporters.
"But if it`s a matter of pouring gasoline on the fire on the civil war in Syria, that is certainly not productive."
One of the concerns the United States has over the beefed-up Russian military presence in Syria is the specter of Russian and US-led coalition jets flying in the same air space.
The Pentagon has spoken about the need for "deconfliction" to avoid the risk of any incidents.
Moscow has said any support for Assad is in line with existing military contracts and that personnel have been sent to train the Syrian forces.
The Kremlin announced Thursday that President Vladimir Putin will meet US leader Barack Obama during his visit to the United Nations in New York on Monday.