Russia, Syria can start work to rebuild Syrian economy, says Putin

Bashar al-Assad has travelled to Russia to meet Vladimir Putin

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad held a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Russian city of Sochi.

"Of course, after this military success, additional conditions have been created to restart a full-format political process", he said at talks with Assad on Thursday.

Assad previously visited Russian Federation and met Mr Putin in November 2017 and October 2015. The fallout over the Iran deal is a rare topic for rapprochement between Europe and Moscow, whose relations are marred by disagreements over the Syria conflict, Moscow's 2014 annexation of Crimea and the subsequent war in eastern Ukraine.

Observers believed Assad's visit to Sochi proved the support provided from Moscow to the Syrian regime, and deemed a Russian attempt to stop the military escalation between Damascus and Tel Aviv.

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At the meeting, which had not been announced in advance, Putin congratulated the Syrian leader on what he said were significant successes on the battlefield achieved by the Syrian military.

Putin said the next task is "economic recovery and humanitarian assistance to the people who found themselves in a hard situation".

"We know that the political process will not be easy, since there are countries that do not want stability to Syria. However, together with you and our other partners and friends, we will move firmly forward with the peace process", Assad was quoted as saying.

A posting on the Syrian presidency's Facebook page said Assad and Putin also discussed economic cooperation and growing investments by Russian companies in Syria.

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But rebel factions still control large parts of northwestern and southwestern Syria, while a Kurdish-led alliance backed by the United States holds most of the northeast.

Syria's conflict began with mass protests against the Assad family's decades-long rule.

"During today's meeting we have agreed upon the next steps with the Syrian president related to countering terrorism and the terrorist groups in Syria", Putin said.

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