Putin, Assad discuss preliminaries for Geneva talks

Putin, Assad discuss preliminaries for Geneva talks
Thu Nov 14, 2013 18:52:11

Russian President Vladimir Putin has discussed preparations for a Syria peace conference with President Bashar al-Assad, the Kremlin said.

Putin, who spoke with al-Assad by phone, endorsed the embattled president's decision to send a delegation to the planned Geneva II conference, an official statement said.

The Russian president also said he hoped that Syria's main opposition groups will take part in the Russian- and US-backed talks, for which no date has yet been set.

The Syrian opposition National Coalition on Monday announced that it would attend the conference, but only on the basis that there would be no role for al-Assad in any future transitional period.

The exiled opposition alliance, which is backed by Western and Some Arab regimes and Turkey, also set out conditions regarding aid access to militants-held areas and the release of detainees.

Putin told al-Assad that he was satisfied with the Syrian government's cooperation with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the UN weapons watchdog tasked with destroying Syria's arsenal.

The United States has asked Albania to destroy the arsenal on its soil, prompting the conservative opposition to demand a referendum on the request.

"The people should decide on such a vital issue," Democratic Party leader Lulzim Basha said ahead of a parliament session.

Putin’s remarks came as the Syrian army is fighting foreign-backed militants in Damascus and Aleppo.

The army attacks in the northern city of Aleppo were concentrated around the international airport and Nairab military air base, the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights watchdog group said, adding that fierce clashes also took place in the old city.

In the capital Damascus, state television showed government soldiers entering Hujeira, a southern suburb which had been under militants’ control.


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