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Putin meets Assad, calls for 'political process' on Syria

18 May 2018

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has met his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in Russia's city of Sochi, saying it's an opportunity for future peace talks, the Syrian presidential media office said.

"Stability is improving, and all that opens the doors to the political process, which we started a while ago", Assad told Russian President Vladimir Putin according to the Kremlin's statement.

Assad previously visited Russia and met with Putin in November 2017 and October 2015, and Putin travelled to the Russian air base in Syria last December to announce a scale-back of the Russian military presence there.

It said the two also discussed economic cooperation and growing investments by Russian companies in Syria.

Syria has been embroiled in a complicated, multi-sided civil war involving foreign powers, rebels and jihadists.

Putin hailed the Syrian army's victories over militants in Syria, stressing that Syrian soldiers have achieved significant progress recently in boosting the legitimate authority of the Syrian regime.

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Political sources told AFP that two meetings have been held under Iranian guidance to bring together several political blocs. Today, he's rebranded himself as a populist outsider who will fight corruption and Iran's interference in Iraqi affairs.

"The next task, of course, is the economic recovery and humanitarian aid for those people in a hard situation", Putin added.

"I have always said, and I repeat it again, that we have always wholeheartedly supported the political process, which should proceed in parallel with the war on terrorism".

"And of course, the next task is economic recovery and humanitarian assistance to the people who found themselves in a hard situation", the Russian president said.

"Thanks to military successes, we are managing to normalise the situation in the country, opening the way for the return of many of our compatriots".

De Mistura, speaking Wednesday to the UN Security Council's monthly meeting on the Syria conflict, described what he called the classic Syrian regime tactic of a bombardment of a rebel territory followed by negotiations and then mass evacuations from the defeated area.

Putin meets Assad, calls for 'political process' on Syria