US, Russia Talk Air Safety

Defense Department and Russian defense officials again discussed flight safety in Syrian airspace during a March 31 video teleconference, according to a press release. Both sides vowed to adhere to the memorandum of understanding on flight safety as long as both are operating in Syria, Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said in a written release. “The conversation was constructive and the two sides agreed to continue safety discussions in this format in the future.” Acting Assistant Secretary for International Security Affairs Elissa Slotkin and Joint Staff Vice Director for Strategic Plans and Policy Maj. Gen. Steven Shepro participated in the discussion with their Russian counterparts. American and Russian officials signed a memorandum of understanding in October to prevent mid-air conflicts over Syria. On March 29, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford said that keeping communication lines with Russia open is critical, even at the “worst of times.”