Russian Deputy FM Says US Agrees Not to Discuss Syrian President Assad Future

Russian Deputy FM Says US Agrees Not to Discuss Syrian President Assad Future
Sat Mar 26, 2016 13:59:00

Russia says it has reached an understanding with the US over not discussing the future of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for the time being.

"To a large extent, the current political process became possible because in the long run Moscow found understanding in Washington of our basic thesis that deciding the issue of the future of Syria's president should not be on the agenda at this stage," the Interfax news agency quoted Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying on Friday.

Ryabkov made the remarks while commenting on the outcome of US Secretary of State John Kerry's Thursday visit to Russia.

Referring to a temporary truce agreement proposed by Russia and the United States, which came into force across Syria on February 27, Kerry said, "The result of that work has produced some progress. There has been a fragile (yet) nevertheless beneficial reduction in violence."

The agreement stipulated the cessation of all military hostilities in Syria, except for the operations against the ISIS Takfiri terrorist group and the Syrian al-Qaeda, known as al-Nusra Front.

Ryabkov also said that a “mutual understanding” has been reached with Washington over bolstering the cessation of hostilities.

“The questions are whether this is enough and whether it can be documented, but this is a question for the military," he said.

No Complete Withdrawal in Sight

The Russian official further stressed that a complete Russian troops withdrawal from Syria would not take place in the near future.

"We have explained repeatedly that the tasks set before the group are aimed at countering terrorism and the ISIS and al-Nusra Front groups that are banned in Russia. This fact raises no questions with the Americans, so there can be no talk of a full withdrawal," he said.

On March 14, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that "the main part" of the Russian forces would start to withdraw from Syria, and that diplomats had been called upon to increase their efforts for a peaceful solution to the five-year-long conflict.

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