Three months ago, Secretary of State John Kerry flew to the Black Sea resort town of Sochi for an unexpected meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. A central topic: the civil war in Syria.
Even amid high tensions over Ukraine, the meeting was a key part of recent engagement between the U.S. and Moscow on the vexing question of how to end Syriaa��s brutal civil war, which has left nearly 250,000 dead, fueled the rise of the Islamic State, and helped to radicalize would-be terrorists around the world.
Now Russia is at the center of a new flurry of Syria-focused diplomacy which has followed the Iran nuclear deal, and which might even involve a new round of direct talks between Washington and Tehran, Syriaa��s staunchest ally.
a�?The strategic landscape on Syria has shifted in a fairly significant way,a�? a senior administration official said in an interview.
Israel and Saudi Arabia are watching the developments with particular wariness, concerned about any diplomacy that could strengthen Irana��s standing in the region
While insisting theya��re clear-eyed about the risks, Obama officials argue ita��s worth testing diplomacy to see whether it can defuse a conflict that has become a global magnet for jihadists and destabilized the Middle East. They say that several recent events, including the Iran nuclear deal, have opened a door for new approaches.