Syria’s As­sad meets with Putin

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS -

SYR­IAN PRES­I­DENT Bashar As­sad made a sur­prise visit to Russia to meet Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin yes­ter­day at his sum­mer res­i­dence in the Black Sea re­sort of Sochi.

A tran­script of the meet­ing re­leased by the Krem­lin quoted As­sad as say­ing that Syria is mak­ing progress in fight­ing “ter­ror­ism,” which “opens the door to the po­lit­i­cal process”.

Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said that As­sad in­formed the Rus­sian leader of his de­ci­sion to “send a del­e­ga­tion to the UN” to dis­cuss re­form­ing the coun­try’s con­sti­tu­tion. The UN has hosted sev­eral rounds of peace talks in Geneva that have made no progress to­wards 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 that As­sad con­firmed that he would 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.

Russia has been a key ally of As­sad through­out the seven-year Syr­ian civil war. Moscow launched an air cam­paign on be­half of As­sad’s forces in 2015 that tipped the con­flict in his favour.

As­sad pre­vi­ously vis­ited Russia and met with Putin in Novem­ber 2017 and Oc­to­ber 2015, and Putin trav­elled to the Rus­sian air base in Syria last De­cem­ber to an­nounce a scale-back of the Rus­sian mil­i­tary pres­ence there.

Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin (left) shakes hands with Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar al-As­sad dur­ing their meet­ing in the Black Sea re­sort of Sochi, Russia, yes­ter­day.

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