Putin, Assad hail achievements in Syria

Glen Norman
May 18, 2018

Syrian President Bashar Assad made a surprise visit to Russian Federation to meet President Vladimir Putin on Thursday at his summer residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) speaks with his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad during their meeting in Sochi on May 17, 2018.

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.

He also visited Putin in Moscow in October 2015, soon after Russian Federation launched its military operation in Syria. The fallout over the Iran deal is a rare topic for rapprochement between Europe and Moscow, whose relations are marred by disagreements over the Syria conflict, Moscow's 2014 annexation of Crimea and the subsequent war in eastern Ukraine.

Putin also congratulated Assad on the "successes of the Syrian government's army in the fight against terrorist groups".

Putin said the next task is "economic recovery and humanitarian assistance to the people who found themselves in a hard situation". Its military support not only ensured the survival of Assad's regime but also changed the course of the war.

The latest round of Syria peace talks in the Kazakh capital Astana wrapped up on Tuesday, but did not however make any concrete progress towards ending the seven-year conflict that has cost 350,000 lives.

According to a Kremlin statement, Mr Assad said "stability is improving" in Syria, "opening the door to the political process we started some time ago".

"We know that the political process will not be easy, since there are countries that do not want stability to Syria".

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Western attacks in the country removed any moral obstacle to arming Syria. He thanked the Russian military for playing an important role in the fight.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the meeting, which had not been announced in advance, took place on Thursday.

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