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Putin: Moscow and Washington Close to Breakthrough Deal on Syria | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Russian President Vladimir Putin. Reuters

Moscow, Paris-Russian President Vladimir Putin did not rule out a possibility that Moscow and Washington could soon reach a cooperation deal on Syria.

The talks in Geneva between U.S. and Russian officials aimed at reestablishing a ceasefire in Syria and cooperating militarily against ISIS and other jihadist groups in the country “are very difficult,” Putin said in an interview with Bloomberg News.

“One of the key problems is that we insist, and our American partners do not object to this, that the so-called healthy part of the opposition should be separated from the radical groups and terrorist organizations such as Jabhat Al-Nusra,” he said.

Despite the obstacles, the U.S.-Russian negotiations are on the right track, Putin told his interviewer.

“We’re gradually heading in the right direction and I don’t exclude that we’ll be able to agree on something in the near future and present our agreements to the international community,” he said.

It seems that the fate of Bashar Assad’s regime is one of the major sticking points between Moscow and Washington or between Moscow and Ankara.

Asked about Turkey’s large-scale military operation in Syria, Putin said Ankara and Moscow “have a mutual desire to come to an agreement about the region’s problems, including the Syrian one.”

Despite the optimism expressed by Putin on the ability to reach a cooperation deal soon, French sources told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that “it is still early to discuss about an agreement” although the U.S. and Russia are “heading in the right direction.”

Their remarks came amid the insistence of French diplomats that the Assad regime and its main backers Russia and Iran “have not yet dropped the military option” from their agenda.

The Geneva talks are aimed at gaining time pending a clearer view on the results of ongoing battles in Syria, mainly Aleppo and its neighboring areas, they said.

The two sides have fallen into a “vicious circle,” said the diplomats.

According to them, the Geneva talks have certain gaps – The U.S. officials are pushing for a “quick understanding,” while the Russian negotiators are mulling “several options.”