Putin met Assad in Sochi ahead of Syria talks with Iran and Turkey

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SOCHI: Nov 21, 2017: Russian President Vladimir Putin met with embattled Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad in Sochi ahead of talks on Wednesday with leaders from Turkey and Iran aimed at re-booting the peace process in the conflict-torn country. The Kremlin said Monday’s meeting in the Black Sea resort of Sochi came during a “working visit” by Assad to Russia. Putin praised Assad for “fighting terrorism,” which he predicted would suffer an “inevitable” defeat in Syria, the Kremlin said. “It is in our interest to advance the political process… we don’t want to look back and we are ready for dialogue with all those who want to come up with a political settlement,” Assad said in translated comments. Putin said he would “consult” world leaders, including US president Donald Trump, on his talks with Assad. Putin’s telephone talks with Trump are due on Tuesday, the Kremlin said. On Wednesday, the presidents of Russia, Turkey and Iran will meet for the first of a series of summits to bring peace in Syria, where regime forces now have an upper hand over rebels and the Islamic State group. Putin will host Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iran’s Hassan Rouhani in Sochi ahead of parallel UN-led talks in Geneva set for November 28.

The meeting the first such three-way summit between the trio comes as Ankara, Moscow and Tehran cooperate with increasing intensity on ending the over six-year civil war in Syria that has left 330,000 dead and millions homeless. The cooperation comes despite Turkey still officially being on an opposite side of the Syria conflict from Russia and Iran, which are key Assad backers.

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