MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted Syrian chief Bashar Assad within the Kremlin on Wednesday for talks that had been anticipated to deal with rebuilding Syria after a devastating civil struggle and mending Damascus’ ties with Turkey.
Welcoming Assad at first of the assembly, which occurred on the anniversary of Syria’s 12-year uprising-turned-civil struggle, Putin emphasised the Russian navy’s “decisive contribution” to stabilizing the nation.
Russia has waged a navy marketing campaign in Syria since September 2015, teaming up with Iran to permit Assad’s authorities to combat armed opposition teams and reclaim management over many of the nation. Whereas Russia now concentrates the majority of its navy assets in Ukraine, Moscow has maintained its navy foothold in Syria and saved warplanes and troops at its bases there.
Assad thanked Putin for backing Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, noting that the Kremlin’s help has remained robust regardless of the combating in Ukraine.
“Despite the fact that Russia now can be conducting the particular operation, its place has remained unchanged,” Assad stated, utilizing the Kremlin’s “particular navy operation” time period for the Russian motion in Ukraine and voicing help for Moscow’s effort.
The 2 rounds of talks between the 2 leaders, the primary one involving senior officers from each international locations after which a one-on-one encounter over lunch, lasted for greater than three hours. The Russian and Syrian protection ministers additionally met individually to debate navy cooperation.
Assad’s workplace stated on Twitter that the 2 leaders mentioned “joint cooperation in varied kinds and developments on the regional and worldwide arenas.” It famous that Assad “renewed Syria’s place in help of Russia’s proper to defend its nationwide safety.”
Moscow has offered strong political help to Assad on the United Nations and actively mediated to assist restore his authorities’s ties with regional powers.
Some Arab international locations that had referred to as prior to now for the downfall of Assad have despatched help following the catastrophic Feb. 6 earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria killing greater than 50,000 together with over 6,000 in Syria.
Worldwide sympathy following the quake appeared to have sped up the regional rapprochement, with some calling for dialogue with Syria and for bringing the nation again to the 22-member Arab League greater than a decade after its membership was suspended over the crackdown within the early months of the rebellion that become struggle.
As a part of the continuing rapprochement, the overseas ministers of Egypt and Jordan just lately made their first go to to Damascus for the reason that battle started in March 2011 and met with Assad.
On Wednesday, Assad additionally thanked Putin for sending rescue groups and interesting its navy based mostly in Syria to conduct salvage efforts and assist cope with the quake’s aftermath.
Previous to the earthquake, Russia had been mediating talks between Turkey and Syria.
Turkey has backed armed opposition teams in Syria which have sought to overturn Assad’s authorities in the course of the civil struggle, which has killed practically 500,000 folks and displaced half of the nation’s prewar inhabitants. Syria has demanded that Turkey withdraws from an enclave it controls in northwestern Syria to ensure that Damascus to normalize its relations with Ankara.
In December, Moscow hosted shock talks between the Syrian and Turkish protection ministers. Arab media reported that one of many fundamental subjects that Assad will focus on with Putin throughout their assembly on Wednesday is reconciliation between Syria and Turkey.
Requested if Putin’s talks with Assad might play a task in restoring Syria’s ties with Turkey, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov responded that “the problem of the Syrian-Turkish relations will undoubtedly be a part of the talks’ agenda.”
Despite the fact that Turkey has backed Syrian opposition fighters within the north, Ankara and Damascus share dismay over the U.S.-backed Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in Syria’s northeast. Turkey-backed opposition fighters have clashed with the SDF prior to now, accusing them of being an arm of Turkey’s outlawed Kurdistan Employees’ Get together, or PKK. The PKK has for many years waged an insurgency inside Turkey in opposition to the federal government in Ankara.
Assad’s authorities has forged the SDF as a secessionist power that has been pilfering the nation’s wealth whereas controlling Syria’s main oil fields.
Assad’s workplace stated in a press release after the talks that Putin and Assad talked about “regional initiatives supported by Moscow” and Assad emphasised that Syria helps dialogue “if it results in reaching the pursuits of the Syrian folks and the unity and integrity of the Syrian territory and results in clear outcomes, the primary of which is the continuation of the combat in opposition to terrorism and the exit of unlawful overseas forces current on its territory.” It did not elaborate.
The Syrian, Turkish and Russian deputy overseas ministers and a senior Iranian envoy had been anticipated to carry talks Wednesday and Thursday in Moscow to debate “counterterrorism efforts” in Syria, though Syria’s Deputy Overseas Minister Ayman Sousan was quoted by pro-government media as saying that the assembly “continues to be below dialogue.”
Bassem Mroue reported from Beirut.