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Putin, Al-Assad Meet in Russia's Sochi

18 May 2018

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad made a surprise visit to the Black Sea resort city of Sochi for talks with his Russian counterpart about Syria's bloody seven-year conflict.

The Syrian president said Syria is making progress in fighting "terrorism".

The Russian president said: "Given the victories and successes of the Syrian army in the war on terror, in light of the onset of a more active period, and in light of the fact that a more active political process has begun, foreign armed forces will start leaving Syrian territory".

Since fighting broke out in Syria in 2011, the Syrian president has traveled three times to Russian Federation for talks with Putin - visits that underscored Moscow's status as Assad's chief backer.

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The visit of Assad to Sochi is his second, as last November the president met with Putin in Sochi and hailed the Russian support to Syria.

Syria has been embroiled in a complicated, multi-sided civil war involving foreign powers, rebels and jihadists.

In remarks cited by the Kremlin, Putin congratulated the Syrian leader on what he said were significant successes on the battlefield achieved by the Syrian military.

According to the Kremlin statement, Assad said "stability is improving" in Syria, "opening the door to the political process we started some time ago".

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"We know that the political process will not be easy, since there are countries that do not want stability to Syria".

They said issues on the table may include economic impact on India and Russian Federation in the wake of the United States withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, the situation in Afghanistan, Syria, threat of terrorism and matters relating to upcoming Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and BRICS summits.

But the special envoy noted that half of the people in the northern rebel province of Idlib had already fled from other parts of Syria, "and will have nowhere else to go because there is no other place to go".

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Putin, Al-Assad Meet in Russia's Sochi