Trump, Putin look to work together on Syria

04 May, 2017, 00:49 | Author: Malcolm Fuller
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends the weekly cabinet meeting of the German government at the chancellery in Berlin Wednesday

The United States is sending a senior State Department official to the talks, and President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin signaled greater cooperation on Syria in a phone call on Tuesday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday pushed a plan to set up safe zones in Syria that could see planes grounded but details remained hazy as a latest round of Kremlin-backed peace talks on the six-year war floundered.

Both countries confirmed the presidents were aiming to organise their first official face-to-face meeting for July, 2017.

It was the first time the two leaders had spoken since Mr Trump infuriated the Kremlin by launching a missile strike against the forces of Russia's ally Bashar Al Assad last month, in retaliation for a chemical attack allegedly ordered by his government.

Russia will continue blocking the import of Turkish tomatoes and some other produce, but the ban will not last forever, said Russian President Vladimir Putin during a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Sochi.

But the leaders appeared to again be edging toward closer cooperation following the exchange.

The Kremlin said Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin had emphasised coordinating their actions to fight worldwide terrorism.

Noting that Russian Federation exports natural gas, coal and oil to Turkey, Erdo─čan said that they have also discussed the TurkStream project, which includes two lines transported from the Black Sea - one through Turkey and the other directly to Europe.

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The proposal presented to the rebels in Astana delineates four zones in Syria where front lines between the government and rebels would be frozen and fighting halted, according to a statement made by rebels.

Putin's priorities include consolidating Russia's leading role in Syria, preserving a delicate entente with Turkey in leading the Syrian "peace process", and continuing to try to coax it away from Europe and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as part of a broader strategy of weakening the Western alliance.

"It was a very constructive call that the two presidents had", Tillerson told reporters. Russian support has been key to keeping Assad in power. The Russian head of state has called for restraint and reduce tensions level.

The FBI is still investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

The U.S. readout framed the conversation as a call "regarding Syria" where the two leaders reached similar conclusions.

Russian Federation and Turkey have in the past several months boosted their anti-terrorism campaign in Syria, with the first joint operation being carried out against Islamic State targets in the suburbs of the town of al-Bab in the Aleppo province in mid January.

Putin, who met earlier Tuesday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, denied that Moscow ever interferes in other countries' elections.

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