U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed Tuesday to support the U.N. effort to “peacefully resolve” the nearly seven-year-long Syrian civil war.
The White House said the two leaders talked for more than an hour and stressed the importance of ending the humanitarian crisis in which millions of Syrians have been displaced from their homes. Trump and Putin said the displaced Syrians should be allowed to return and “the stability of a unified Syria free of malign intervention and terrorist safe havens” should be ensured.
Trump talked by phone with Putin a day after the Russian leader held discussions in Russia with Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad about a political resolution to the civil war, which has killed 400,000 people.
The White House said Trump and Putin “affirmed the importance of fighting terrorism together throughout the Middle East and Central Asia and agreed to explore ways to further cooperate in the fight against ISIS, al-Qaida, the Taliban and other terrorist organizations.”
In addition, they discussed ways “to implement a lasting peace in Ukraine,” where pro-Russian separatists have been fighting troops loyal to Kyiv, and how to keep international pressure on North Korea to end its nuclear weapon and missile development programs.
The Kremlin said Tuesday that it had called Assad to the Black Sea resort of Sochi for talks with Putin about Russia’s peace proposals for Syria, ahead of Putin’s summit Wednesday with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
Russia has bolstered Assad’s rule with airstrikes since late 2015 against groups trying to overthrow his regime, with Iranian fighters also supporting Damascus, and Turkey backing the Syrian opposition.
His power ensured, Asssad said he expressed his gratitude to Putin “for all of the efforts that Russia made to save our country.”
Putin, according to the Kremlin, told Assad that Russia’s “military operation is coming to an end. Thanks to the Russian army, Syria has been saved as a state. Much has been done to stabilize the situation in Syria.”
He praised Assad, predicting terrorism would suffer an “inevitable” defeat in Syria.
The Kremlin quoted Assad as saying, “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.”
U.N.-led peace talks about Syria are scheduled for November 28 in Geneva.