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Putin: US Position on Syria Became More Pragmatic | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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US President Donald Trump (R) shakes hands with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as Russian President Vladimir Putin stands nearby during a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany July 7, 2017 Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via REUTERS

Moscow – Russian President Vladimir Putin described on Saturday the United States’ position on the Syrian civil war as “more pragmatic”.

During a press conference in Hamburg, Germany, Putin said he discussed the Syrian crisis with all the leaders he met with.

“It seems to me that the US position (on Syria) has become more pragmatic. There is a comprehension that if we combine our efforts, we can achieve a lot,” Putin said a day after his first meeting with US President Donald Trump at the G20.

The Syrian crisis was a primary subject of discussion between Putin and Trump and the two announced a ceasefire in southwest Syria starting from midday on July 9.

“As a result, we have yesterday’s agreement on de-escalation zone in southern Syria. Regardless of the reaction of others, I could tell you that it is one of the breakthroughs, which we have managed to achieve, by the way, during the work with President Trump. It is the result of joint work, including the United States,” Putin added.

Putin said the agreement should become a prototype for a series of zones across Syria that would be administered in coordination with the government in Damascus.

“If we succeed in doing this, we will create an undoubtedly good base and the prerequisites for a political solution in Syria in general,” he said.

Putin added that this may be tiring and boring, but it is an important and crucial step.

The Russian President said that the de-escalation zones were discussed with the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, referring to certain problems faced during the formation of these zones.

On Friday, Tillerson noted that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will leave power eventually, though he said the future remains unclear for leadership in Syria.

“How Assad leaves is yet to be determined,” Tillerson told reporters at the G20 in Hamburg. “There will be a transition away from the Assad family,” he said.

Putin refuted Tillerson’s statement that Assad has “no future” in Syrian politics, saying Tillerson is a “respected man” whom “we respect and love” but that “he is not a Syrian citizen,” and that Assad’s future “will be decided by the Syrian people.”

Several Russian politicians and media outlets hailed the meeting between Putin and Trump. News of the “first handshake” between the two leaders were on the front pages of many media outlets and newspapers and bulletins about “Putin and Trump’s talks held now” was primary on headlines.

Russian political experts described the meeting as “historical” and a “shift in the bilateral relations”.

Later, Tillerson said the cease-fire in southwest Syria is designed to reduce violence in an area near Jordan’s border that is critical to the US ally’s security.

In details, Russia’s FM Sergei Lavrov said his country’s military police will monitor a ceasefire in southwestern Syria, whereas Tillerson stated that US will send troops to ensure security adding that further details will be agreed upon later.