Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad to talk about the need to move from military operations to the search for a political solution to Syria’s conflict, the Kremlin said.
Russia is actively trying to build an international consensus around a peace deal for Syria, over two years after Moscow began a military intervention that turned the tide of the conflict in Assad’s favor.
On Wednesday, Putin is 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 U.S. President Donald Trump and to Middle Eastern leaders.
“We still have a long way to go before we achieve a complete victory over terrorists. But as far as our joint work in fighting terrorism on the territory of Syria is concerned, this military operation is indeed wrapping up,” Putin told Assad, in comments broadcast by Russian television.
“Now the most important thing, of course, is to move on to the political questions, and I note with satisfaction your readiness to work with all those who want peace and a solution (to the conflict),” Putin said.
The meeting, according to the Kremlin, happened on Monday evening in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi, where Putin has a residence. However, the Kremlin did not release information about Assad’s visit until Tuesday.
“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.