Trump, Putin agree 'no military solution' in Syria: Kremlin

Trump, Putin agree 'no military solution' in Syria: Kremlin
US President Donald Trump and Russian leader Vladimir Putin agreed there was "no military solution" for the war in Syria, in a joint statement, the Kremlin said on Saturday.
3 min read
11 November, 2017
The conflict in Syria has no military solution, according to US President Donald Trump and Russian leader Vladimir Putin, in a joint statement approved on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific summit, the Kremlin said on Saturday.

"The presidents agreed that the conflict in Syria has no military solution," and confirmed their "determination to defeat ISIL", the Kremlin website said, using an alternative acronym for the Islamic State militant group.

The two talked and shared a handshake at the summit in Vietnam's Danang after several days of uncertainty over whether a meeting would take place.

"The presidents confirmed their commitment to Syria's sovereignty, independence, unity, territorial integrity and secular nature," and urged the warring sides to participate in UN-led peace talks in Geneva, the Kremlin said.

The presidents' joint statement also "expressed satisfaction" with efforts to prevent incidents between their respective forces in Syria, "which allowed to considerably increase ISIL losses on the battlefield over the last few months."

It comes after the Russian military recently accused the United States of merely "pretending" to fight IS in Iraq and of hindering the Russian-backed offensive in eastern Syria.

"The presidents discussed the necessity to reduce human suffering in Syria, and called on all UN member states to increase their contribution to help meet the humanitarian needs over the coming months," the statement said.

Russia has been flying a bombing campaign in Syria since 2015 when it stepped in to support President Bashar al-Assad's rule and tipped the conflict in his favour.

But since the conflict broke out in 2011, the United States has supported some opposition groups fighting Bashar al-Assad, providing some anti-regime rebels with weapons via a CIA-run military aid programme.

President Donald Trump ordered the programme to shut down earlier this year.

US meeting in Damascus

Earlier this month, a senior US official met with Syrian regime's national security chief in Damascus in the highest ranking visit to Syria by a Washington personnel since the start of the war in 2011.

The unnamed US official travelled to Damascus via Lebanon, and held talks with Syria's notorious national security chief, Ali Mamlouk, according to the Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar.

The two discussed security matters and the fate of missing Americans in Syria, including operatives of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

But despite the latest meeting, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reiterated his country's position that Assad should leave power.

He said "reign of the Assad family is coming to an end" and "the only issue is how that should be brought about".

Seven rounds of talks have achieved only incremental progress toward a political deal, with negotiations deadlocked over the fate of Assad.

The opposition is demanding that any settlement provide for a transition of power to end Assad's rule. As government forces make gains on the battleground, there is little likelihood of a breakthrough on that issue.

The US' top diplomat said that an exit of Assad should be done through the Geneva process led by de Mistura, but that such a departure was not a "prerequisite" for that process to start.

Assad has recaptured swathes of Syrian territory lost since the conflict began with military backing from Russia and Iran over the last two years.

US forces have also been fighting in Syria as part of the coalition against Islamic State, helping Kurdish-led militias capture Raqqa and other parts of northern and eastern Syria from the militants. 

More than 330,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011 with anti-government protests, before spiralling into a complex, multi-front war that drew in international forces and foreign jihadists.

Agencies contributed to this report.