Syrian President Assad visits Vladimir Putin to discuss political solution to conflict

- Syrian President Assad visits Vladimir Putin to discuss political solution to conflict.

- Putin aiming to move on from military operations in Syria.

- Russia has vetoed 10 attempts so far by the UN Security council to continue a chemical weapons inquiry in Syria.
President Vladimir Putin of Russia on Monday hosted President Bashar al-Assad of Syria in a meeting where they
discussed the need to move from military operations to find a political solution to the Syrian conflict.

Russia has been widely involved in trying to build a peace deal for Syria and has been very protective of them at the UN Security council where they have vetoed several attempts from other world leaders to continue an inquiry into whether Syria has been involved in the use of chemical weapons in the war so far.

“We still have a long way to go before we achieve a complete victory over terrorists. But as far as our joint work in fighting terrorism on the territory of Syria is concerned, this military operation is indeed wrapping up,” Putin told Assad, in comments broadcast by Russian television.

“Now the most important thing, of course, is to move on to the political questions, and I note with satisfaction your readiness to work with all those who want peace and a solution (to the conflict),” Putin said.

Putin met Assad on Monday evening in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi, although the Kremlin did not release information about Assad’s visit until Tuesday.

“I would like very much to discuss with you the main principles for organizing the political process, and the holding of a congress of the peoples of Syria, that is supported by you,” Putin told Assad.

“I would like to hear from you your assessment of the state of affairs today, and the prospects for the developments of the situation, including your view of the political process, which, in our view, must ultimately be carried out under the aegis of the United Nations.”

Wearing a dark suit and sitting across a small coffee table from Putin, Assad told the Russian leader: ”At this stage, especially after we achieved victory over terrorists, it is in our interests to move forward with the political process.

“And we believe that the situation we now have on the ground and in the political sense permits us to expect progress in the political process. We count on the support of Russia to ensure the non-interference of outside players in the political process,” he said through an interpreter.

“We don’t want to look backwards. We welcome all those who truly want to see a political solution. We are ready to have a dialogue with them,” said Assad.

Assad further expressed his gratitude to Putin for "saving" Syria.

“On behalf of the entire Syrian people, I express my gratitude for what you have done,” Assad told them. “We will not forget it.”

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