Thursday, 18 October, 2018

Rein in Assad, Trump tells Moscow

Rein in Assad, Trump tells Moscow Rein in Assad, Trump tells Moscow
Lance Thomas | 14 May, 2017, 04:18

Trump stunned the United States on Tuesday by firing FBI Director James Comey, whose agency is investigating alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election and the possibility Trump associates may have colluded with Moscow.

Minsk/Beirut: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said that de-escalation zones proposed by his ally Russian Federation were a chance for rebels to "reconcile" with Damascus and drive out Islamist militants, but vowed to fight on calling UN-led peace talks fruitless.

This came at a meeting in Washington with Russian top diplomat Sergei Lavrov, the highest Russian official received by the US President since ascending to the top job. Russian monitors reported eight ceasefire violations in Syria in the past day, while Turkish officers reported three violations during the day, the Russian center for reconciliation of the warring parties in Syria said in its regular daily news bulletin on Saturday, adding that the situation in the de-escalation zones remains stable.

Since March 2011, the Syrian conflict has caused more than 320,000 deaths and forced millions of refugees to flee.

The agreement calls for the creation of four "de-escalation zones" to shore up a ceasefire, ban flights and allow for humanitarian aid deliveries.

Washington has also voiced concerns over Iran's presence in the de-escalation zones.

"We will look at the proposal, see if it can work", Pentagon chief Jim Mattis said Monday.

Over the past six years, Moscow and Washington have sparred multiple times over the conflict in Syria, especially concerning Assad's fate. Trump said during his election campaign that he sought closer ties with Russian Federation but tensions grew after United States air strikes against a Syrian airfield in April in response to a chemical weapons attack that Washington blamed on Assad. "As to whether it will produce results or not, that depends on the implementation", the president said.

He said: "This issue should be discussed with the Syrian side, because Syria is a sovereign state".

Trump "also raised the possibility of broader cooperation on resolving conflicts in the Middle East", the White House said.


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