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Syria's Assad travels to meet with Putin

China Daily | Updated: 2017-11-22 07:23

Syria's Assad travels to meet with Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during a meeting in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, Nov 20, 2017. [Photo/Agencies]

Focus in 6-year civil conflict now switching to political solution

MOSCOW - Russian state TV reported on Tuesday that President Vladimir Putin has met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi.

The report said the two leaders held bilateral talks on Monday evening and then met with Russian military chiefs.

During the meeting, Putin congratulated his Syrian counterpart on Damascus' results in fighting terrorist groups, the Kremlin said on Tuesday.

The two leaders agreed that the focus in the Syrian conflict was now switching from military operations to the search for a political solution.

"I would like very much to discuss with you the main principles for organizing the political process, and the holding of a congress of the peoples of Syria, that is supported by you," Putin told Assad.

"I would like to hear from you your assessment of the state of affairs today, and the prospects for the developments of the situation, including your view of the political process, which, in our view, must ultimately be carried out under the aegis of the United Nations."

Assad, wearing a dark suit and sitting across a small coffee table from Putin, told the Russian leader: "At this stage, especially after we achieved victory over terrorists, it is in our interests to move forward with the political process. ... We count on the support of Russia to ensure the noninterference of outside players in the political process."

For the meeting in Sochi, Assad stayed on Russian soil for a total of four hours, RIA news agency quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying.

It was the second time Assad has traveled to Russia to meet with Putin in the course of the country's six-year civil conflict.

The first was in October 2015, shortly before Russia launched its military campaign against extremists.

Russia has now withdrawn the majority of its troops from the war-torn country since December, leaving air forces to back Syrian troops.

On Wednesday, Putin was scheduled to meet the leaders of Iran and Turkey, two other powers with major stakes in the Syrian conflict. He said he would follow up his talks with Assad with phone calls to US President Donald Trump and to Middle Eastern leaders.

"What is important now is the move into the political process in Syria and Russia is working with all sides in this regard," Syria's state news agency SANA quoted Putin as saying.

The meeting came two days after Syrian troops and their allies captured the eastern town of Boukamal, the last major inhabited area held by Islamic State in Syria.

The meeting also came a week before UN-sponsored peace talks are to resume in Geneva.

Ap - Xinhua - Reuters - Afp

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