As­sad in sur­prise visit to Moscow

Daily Trust - - INTERNATIONAL -

Syria’s Pres­i­dent Bashar alAs­sad has vis­ited Moscow on his first over­seas trip since the civil war broke out in his coun­try in 2011.

Dur­ing the sur­prise visit, he held talks with Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin.

Rus­sia launched air strikes in Syria last month against the so-called Is­lamic State (IS) and other mil­i­tant groups bat­tling Mr As­sad’s forces.

Mr As­sad said Rus­sia’s in­volve­ment had stopped “ter­ror­ism” be­com­ing “more wide­spread and harm­ful.”

For his part, Mr Putin said Moscow’s hope, in pro­vid­ing a “pos­i­tive dy­namic in the fight­ing”, was that a “long term res­o­lu­tion can be achieved on the ba­sis of a po­lit­i­cal process with the par­tic­i­pa­tion of all po­lit­i­cal forces, eth­nic and reli­gious groups”.

The visit hap­pened on Tues­day evening, but was not an­nounced un­til Wed­nes­day af­ter Mr As­sad had re­turned to Da­m­as­cus.

In com­ments videoed and pub­lished by the Krem­lin, Mr Putin thanked Mr As­sad for com­ing de­spite the “dra­matic sit­u­a­tion” back home.

He praised the Syr­ian peo­ple for “al­most alone... re­sist­ing, fight­ing in­ter­na­tional ter­ror­ism for sev­eral years,” he added.

Mr Putin said Rus­sia was also con­cerned by the 4,000 peo­ple from the former Soviet Union be­lieved to be fight­ing in Syria. “We can­not per­mit them - once they get fight­ing ex­pe­ri­ence there and ide­o­log­i­cal train­ing - to turn up here in Rus­sia,” he said.

Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad dur­ing a meet­ing at the Krem­lin in Moscow on Tues­day. Photo REUTERS

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