Washington Slams Moscow ‘Red Carpet Welcome’ for Assad

Washington Slams Moscow ‘Red Carpet Welcome’ for Assad
Thu Oct 22, 2015 18:15:10

The United States has strongly criticized Russia for its “red carpet” treatment of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who made a rare visit to Moscow to see President Vladimir Putin.

 

In his first foreign trip since 2011, Assad thanked Putin in Moscow for his support in combating terrorism in Syria. The surprise meeting happened Tuesday evening but was announced by the Kremlin on Wednesday.

“First of all I wanted to express my huge gratitude to the whole leadership of the Russian federation for the help they are giving Syria,” Assad told the Russian president, according to a Kremlin transcript.

White House Spokesman Eric Schultz said Wednesday that Russia’s “red carpet welcome” for Assad was at odds with its “stated goals for a political transition in Syria.”

Schultz also accused the Syrian president of using chemical weapons against his own people.

Russia began its airstrike campaign in Syria three weeks ago to target Daesh (ISIL) terrorists and other militant groups, shortly after the upper house of the parliament gave Putin the mandate to use military force in the Arab country.

US officials have raised concerns that Russia has directed parts of its strikes against CIA-backed militants fighting the Assad government.

The Syrian Army, backed by Russian airstrikes, has opened several fronts against militants to retake lost territory in Homs, Hama, Aleppo and Latakia.

Putin reportedly told Assad that he would continue to provide military and political assistance to Syria and would press other countries to help reach a settlement to the crisis.

In a key-note speech before the UN General Assembly last month, the Russian leader called on world leaders to come together to fight terrorism.

Putin is scheduled to speak to an audience of foreign politicians in Sochi on Thursday and is expected to raise the issue once again.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry are due to meet in Vienna on Friday to discuss the Syria crisis with their counterparts from Saudi Arabia and Turkey, two major backers of anti-Assad militant groups; Press TV reported.

S/SH

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