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​Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Kathleen Hicks, with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, discuss Defense Department reform and organization in Washington, D.C., March 29, 2016. DOD photo by James Garamone.

​Military to military discussions with potential adversaries, especially Russia, is extremely important, said Gen. Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on Tuesday. Speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., Dunford said he has had three meetings with his Russian counterpart to try and keep communication lines open. Even in the “worst of times,” the US and Russia need to speak, he added. The two militaries have agreed to keep the topics of their discussions secret, a plan that has so far been intact. The US is still evaluating the impact of Russia’s so-called pull out of Syria, even as that country has continued airstrikes to bolster the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Russian activity has definitely “stabilized” Assad, whom the US-led coalition has repeatedly called on to step down, said Dunford. (See also: Russia, Iran to Cooperate on Syria, U.S.-Russia Discuss Flight Safety.)