Putin to speak with Trump after Assad

Putin, Assad met for talks in Sochi

By BEN WESTCOTT AND JENNIFER HAUSER , CNN
Headline Goes Here Kremlin, Office of Syrian Presidency via CNN

Bashir Assad, Vladimir Putin

(CNN) - Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to call President Donald Trump on Tuesday following a rare meeting with Syrian dictator Bashar Assad to discuss the future of Syria, a statement from the Kremlin said.

Putin and Assad met for talks in Sochi, the Russian Black Sea resort, Russian state media reported Tuesday.

During the meeting, Putin was full of praise for the Syrian President and his work fighting ISIS.

"Syria is striving in the fight against terrorist(s) ... the Syrian people are going through very difficult trials and are gradually approaching the final, unavoidable rout of terrorists," Putin said according to Russian news agency Sputnik.

A Kremlin statement issued after the meeting quoted Putin as saying he would be phoning Trump on Tuesday, along with leaders of other countries involved in the Syrian conflict, such as Iraq, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

"Based on our meeting today I will hold consultations with the leaders of those countries... Today, a conversation with Emir of Qatar is already planned and, tomorrow, with president of the United States of America Donald Trump and then with leaders of the countries of the region," Putin said Monday, according to the statement.

It's the first time the two leaders have met since October 2015, just a month after Russia came to the aid of the embattled dictator with a series of airstrikes against rebels opposing Assad's regime.

Putin and his government have been one of the chief supporters of the Syrian President's government, both militarily and in helping negotiate ceasefires in the country's long-running civil war.

Hostilities between Assad and the Syrian rebels began in March 2011.

The two leaders met for talks ahead of a trilateral summit on Wednesday between Russia, Turkey and Iran, Syrian state media SANA said.

Both men, who are pictured hugging in official photos, agreed that the emphasis in the long-running Syrian conflict has moved from military operations to the search for a political solution.

"Huge successes have been achieved, both on the battlefield (and) on the political level. Many areas in Syria have been liberated from terrorist(s), and civilians who were forced to leave those areas have been able to return," Assad said according to state media.

"We must admit that the operation made it possible to advance the process of political settlement in Syria."

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