Assad makes trip to meet with Putin
Syrian President Bashar Assad made a surprise visit to Russia to meet President Vladimir Putin on Thursday at his summer residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. A transcript of Thursday’s meeting released by the Kremlin quoted Assad as saying that Syria is making progress in fighting “terrorism,” which “opens the door to the political pro- cess.” Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Assad informed the Russian leader of his decision to “send a delegation to the U.N.” to discuss reforming the country’s constitution. The U.N. has hosted several rounds of peace talks in Geneva that have made no progress toward ending the conflict. A posting on the Syrian presidency’s Facebook page said the two leaders consulted on various issues of mutual interest and the latest political and military developments in Syria. It said Assad confirmed he will send a list of candidate names as soon as possible to the United Nations, for membership in a committee that would discuss the constitution. It said that Russia welcomes and supports this decision based on agreements reached in national dialogue meetings in Sochi. It said the two also discussed economic cooperation and growing investments by Russian companies in Syria.