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Russian president talks to Trump, regional leaders on Syria

Ahead of a trilateral summit with Iranian and Turkish presidents in Sochi, Russian President Vladimir Putin has discussed the Syria crisis with his US counterpart and the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Israel and Egypt.

In a phone conversation with the US president, Putin informed Trump of “the main results” of his Monday meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Sochi “at which the Syrian leader confirmed his commitment to the political process, (and) conducting constitutional reform and presidential and parliamentary elections,” the Kremlin said.

Putin stressed the “need to keep Syria’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity intact,” noting that a political settlement in Syria should be reached in the process of an all-inclusive “internal negotiating process.”

The Kremlin press service described the talks as “businesslike and meaningful.”

Trump described the one-hour talks with his Russian counterpart as a “great call.”

According to a White House statement, both presidents also stressed the importance of implementing US resolutions on Syria and supporting the UN-led Geneva Process to “peacefully resolve the Syrian civil war, end the humanitarian crisis allow displaced Syrians to return home, and ensure the stability of a unified Syria free of malign intervention and terrorist safe havens.”

The White House statement also stressed the need to ensure “the stability of a unified Syria.”

During the phone call, the US and Russian presidents also discussed the Iranian nuclear deal, the situation in Afghanistan and Ukraine as well as tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

According to the Kremlin, the Russian side emphasized commitment “to a full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (on Iran’s nuclear program) – a major factor in ensuring regional stability and settlement of the problem of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.”

The Russian president also discussed the Syrian crisis in separate phone conversations with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

During the phone calls, Putin touted Moscow’s recent initiative to bring the Syrian government and its opponents together for a Syrian “congress” in Sochi.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (L) embraces his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad during a meeting in Sochi on November 20, 2017. (AFP photo)

According to the Kremlin, Assad’s visit to Russia was meant to ensure that he agrees to possible peace initiatives with Russia, Iran and Turkey, ahead of the trilateral meeting of their presidents at Putin’s official residence in Sochi on Wednesday.

The three-way summit comes as Tehran, Moscow and Turkey cooperate with increasing intensity to end the conflict in Syria, even though Ankara officially stands on the opposite side of the conflict.

The three countries are sponsoring peace talks in the Kazakh capital of Astana and also implementing a plan to establish de-escalation zones in key flashpoint areas of Syria.

The militant-held northwestern province of Idlib, the central province of Homs and the Eastern Ghouta area outside Damascus are the regions which the three countries want to establish as the de-escalation zones.

The talks in Astana have been going on in tandem with another series of talks held in Geneva and brokered by the UN.

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