Putin, Trump Back Syria Peace Plans During Meeting at APEC

Updated on
  • Both leaders said satisfied with successful cooperation
  • Agree there’s ‘no military solution’ to long-running war
How Putin Became the Symbol of Russian Power

President Vladimir Putin and U.S. leader Donald Trump agreed to support a political reconciliation in Syria with the participation of President Bashar al-Assad, while maintaining the existing two-nation communication channels used to fight Islamic State.

Trump and Putin are satisfied with the “successful U.S.-Russia” military efforts that have “dramatically accelerated” the jihadist group’s battlefield losses, according to a joint statement issued after the leaders met briefly on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam.

Trump and Putin meet at the APEC summit on Nov. 11.

Photographer: Mikhail Klimentyev/AFP via Getty Images

“These efforts will continue until the final defeat of Islamic State,” according to the statement. In Danang, a U.S. official who requested anonymity said the joint statement shows both leaders back a political solution and peace process.

The joint efforts have weakened Islamic State, leading to its defeat earlier this month in the last major foothold in Syria. While Russian support has kept Assad in power, helping Putin expand Russian clout across the region, the U.S. wants to have influence in any plan to help the nation recover from years of civil war.

“There is no military solution to the conflict in Syria,” according to the statement. “The ultimate political solution to the conflict must be forged through the Geneva process” under United Nations resolutions.

The U.S. and Russia will seek to finish defeating Islamic State, reduce the intensity of the conflict in Syria, and work toward an election supervised by the UN, said a senior State Department official speaking in a briefing on condition of anonymity. The U.S. doesn’t see a future for Assad in Syria at the end of the process, the official said.

Earlier, the U.S. official in Danang said Russia and the U.S. agreed to get Assad to the peace process in Geneva.

The leaders reaffirmed the importance of de-escalation zones as an interim measure to reduce violence in Syria, and called upon all UN member states to increase their contribution to meeting humanitarian needs in the country. The U.S. official in Danang said additional agreements with Jordan had strengthened one zone in the south.

Putin had expected to meet with Trump at the Asia summit, but the U.S. leader ducked a formal meeting. The two spoke for a few minutes while walking to a group photo session on Saturday. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met on Saturday.

— With assistance by Todd Shields

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