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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

Putin urges political solution in Syria in calls to Trump, Middle Eastern leaders

The conversations came after the Russian President met Syria's Bashar Al Assad for three hours of talks on Monday

Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the civil war in Syria with US President Donald Trump and several Middle Eastern leaders on Tuesday. Sputnik, Kremlin pool photo via AP
Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the civil war in Syria with US President Donald Trump and several Middle Eastern leaders on Tuesday. Sputnik, Kremlin pool photo via AP

Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump discussed the civil war in Syria on Tuesday, with Mr Putin stressing the importance of finding a political solution after meeting with Syria’s president, according to the Kremlin.

Mr Putin on Tuesday also held phone calls with a number of Middle Eastern leaders, among them as Saudi King Salman, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi.

Tuesday's late night call to Saudi Arabia comes a day after Syrian President Bashar Assad made a surprise visit to Russia for talks with Putin, ahead of an intended UN-brokered peace dialogue to take place in Geneva next week.

The two discussed Syrian peace talks and "on the background of successful struggle against terrorist groupings in Syria, the parties discussed the prospects for durable peace settlement of the armed conflict," the press service said.

They also considered "long-term prospects of Syrian settlement."

Mr Putin said on his part the Syrian National Dialogue Congress that was to convene in Sochi in a few days’ time would help facilitate the Swiss prospects of a peace agreement.

The Russian President also informed his counterpart of Monday’s three-hour meeting with the Syrian President and on the main items on the agenda of the coming Russian summit.

The half-hour conversation with Mr Netanyahu dealt with Iran’s attempts to gain a foothold in Syria and Israel’s opposition to such moves, according to a source in Mr Netanyahu’s office. The Israeli leader stressed his country’s security concerns, the source said.

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On Wednesday, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani - whose countries back opposing sides in the Syria conflict - will travel to Russia for a meeting with Mr Putin aimed at advancing the Syrian peace process.

Following the conversation between Mr Putin and Mr Trump, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov discussed Syria and Ukraine in a phone call with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Mr Trump and Mr Putin spoke by telephone for about an hour, covering topics including Syria, Ukraine, Iran, North Korea and Afghanistan, a White House official said earlier.

Their conversation came after Mr Putin met Mr Al Assad for three hours of talks on Monday, in preparation for a push by Moscow to end Syria’s conflict now that ISIL has been driven out of its self-styled caliphate in Iraq and Syria.

According to the Kremlin, Mr Putin told Mr Trump that the “Syrian leader confirmed adherence to the political process, to run a constitutional reform and president and parliament elections”.

“The message was sent of the necessity to keep the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Syria and to reach a political settlement based on principals to be worked out in a full-scale negotiation process in Syria,” the Kremlin said.

Mr Putin stressed the importance to Mr Trump of what he called “coordinating of efforts between the special services of both countries”.

The two leaders also discussed North Korea, “stressing the expediency of finding the ways of solution by the diplomatic means”.