A statement posted on the Syrian presidency’s official Facebook page said the meetings discussed the continuation of the military operations against terrorism in Syria, calling it the “obstacle” to a political solution.
“Terrorism which we see spreading today could have been more widespread and more harmful if it weren’t for your decisions and steps, not only in our region,” Assad told Putin in remarks carried by Arab media.
The statement said Assad had three separate meetings in Moscow: talks with Putin and his foreign and defense ministers, a closed-door meeting between the two leaders and a working dinner.
Commentators on Syrian TV hailed the visit as endorsement of Assad’s legitimacy, reinforcing the notion that he must be part of a future political solution to the crisis.
“This lightning trip is a slap” to Assad’s opponents, Syrian analyst Bassam Abdullah told state television channel Ikhbariyah after the visit, adding that it highlights the need for political meetings not just military action.
Abdullah described the meeting as “intimate” and reflecting a common vision and values between the two leaders. “There is a clear strategic shift in the region … and it is happening fast,” he said.
Television footage showed footage of Putin and Russia’s foreign and defense ministers meeting with Assad, with the two leaders exchanging warm handshakes and smiles. Syrian government officials didn’t say if anyone traveled with Assad and photos from the meeting didn’t show a delegation accompanying the Syrian leader.
Assad said Russia’s intervention was in line with international law and praised it as an effort to rid Syria and the region of terrorism.
Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov, in comments carried by Russian news agencies, declined to comment on any specific outcome of the talks.
Since June, Russia has played with the idea of a political transition that would envisage setting up some sort of interim government, and has discussed the issue with the U.S., Saudi Arabia, the Syrian opposition and others. Moscow’s diplomatic efforts have brought no visible results so far, but Putin has insisted that a political solution for Syria remains his top goal despite the military action. He recently met with Saudi officials, staunch critics of Assad and supporters of the rebels fighting against him.
Moscow also has sought to alleviate the concerns of Turkey, a major economic partner and the second-biggest importer of Russian natural gas, which has been critical of Russia’s intervention in Syria. …Read More

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