Putin Meets Assad Ahead Of Syria Talks with Turkey and Iran
President Vladimir Putin said the Russian army had "saved Syria as a state" after meeting with leader Bashar al-Assad, as Syrian regime forces take an upper hand over rebels and the Islamic State (ISIS).
Monday's talks came during an announced "working visit" by Assad to the Black Sea resort of Sochi, ahead of a summit between Putin and the leaders of Turkey and Iran on Wednesday (November 22) aimed at re-booting the Syrian peace process.
"As for our joint work in the fight against terrorism in Syria, this military operation is coming to an end," Putin said, according to a transcript published on the Kremlin's website.
The Russian leader praised Assad and predicted terrorism would suffer an "inevitable" defeat in the country.
"Thanks to the Russian army, Syria has been saved as a state. Much has been done to stabilize the situation in Syria," the transcript said.
"It is in our interest to advance the political process... we don't want to look back and we are ready for dialogue with all those who want to come up with a political settlement," Assad said in translated comments.
Putin said he would consult world leaders on his talks with Assad, including with U.S. president Donald Trump in a telephone call expected on Tuesday.
The Russian army's Chief of General Staff, Valery Gerasimov, told Russian news agencies that "despite the fact that there remains a raft of unresolved problems" the military stage "is coming to its logical conclusion.”
Wednesday, Putin will host Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iran's Hassan Rouhani for the first in a series of summits on the peace process, ahead of parallel U.N.-led talks in Geneva set for November 28.
The meeting -- the first such three-way summit between the trio -- comes as Ankara, Moscow and Tehran cooperate with increasing intensity on ending the over six-year civil war in Syria that has left 330,000 dead and millions homeless.
The cooperation comes despite Turkey still officially being on an opposite side of the Syria conflict from Russia and Iran, which are key Assad backers.
Russia, Iran and Turkey have backed negotiations in the Kazakh capital Astana that have brought together the many representatives of the opposition and the regime seven times this year.
The main Kurdish opposition forces, though, have not been included in the talks because of Erdogan’s demands.