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Putin agrees with US idea of possibility to include opposition in Syrian government

June 17, 17:57 UTC+3 ST. PETERSBURG
According to the president it is necessary to think about the powers such a government will have
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© AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky

ST. PETERSBURG, June 17. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday he agreed with the US proposal on the possibility of incorporating the Syrian opposition into the government of Bashar Assad but urged a careful approach to this issue.

"I believe the US proposal is absolutely acceptable - it is necessary to think about the possibility of incorporating representatives of the opposition into the existing structures of the [Syrian] authorities, for example, into the government," Putin said, replying to questions at a plenary session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF-2016).

However, in this case, it is necessary to think about the powers such a government will have, the Russian leader added.

"It is also necessary not to go over the top in this case and it is necessary to proceed from present-day realities and avoid seeking the declaration of unfulfillable, unachievable goals," Putin said.

The Russian leader called as unrealistic the attempts to this effect to remove President Assad from power.

"It is necessary to act accurately, step by step, gradually achieving the trust of all conflicting parties. If this happens, and I believe that this will happen all the same, the sooner, the better, and then it will be possible to move farther and talk about subsequent elections and full settlement," the Russian leader said.

Syria’s problems are today linked not only with terrorism but also with contradictions inside Syrian society itself "and President Assad understands this well," Putin said.

"This is not a matter of expanding control of particular territories, although this is very important. But this is a matter of ensuring the trust of the whole society, various parts of this society towards each other and use this basis for forming modern and effective governance, which will be trusted by the entire population of the country," the Russian leader said.

Putin said he was sure that political negotiations were the sole way in this case and, what’s more, "Assad agrees with this process."

"Now it is necessary to get involved more actively in the process of formulating the new Constitution and hold future elections - both presidential and parliamentarian - on this basis," Putin said.

During the talks in Moscow, the Syrian president fully agreed with this as well, Putin added.

Such elections should be held "under strict international control with the UN participation," the Russian leader said.

Putin’s meetings with Ban Ki-moon, Staffan de Mistura

In this context, Putin said he had discussed this issue in detail the other day with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura.

"Everyone agrees with that. But acts should follow and we very much hope that our partners, first of all, American partners, will work in a corresponding manner with their allies who support the opposition so that to prompt this opposition to start constructive joint work with the Syrian authorities," the head of the Russian state said.

Putin said that in replies to his questions about their goals in Syria, western colleagues had spoken about the need to establish democratic principles there. At the same time, as Putin said, they admitted that such a societal system was also absent in some other Mideast countries but the West believed that "democracy must be in Syria."

"But can it [democracy] be achieved exclusively with the use of weapons and, generally, with the use of force? No!" Putin said.

According to Putin, this can be done only with the help of democratic institutions and procedures," including through elections based on the Constitution adopted by an overwhelming majority of society.

The Russian president said he knew this was a complex process whose result wouldn’t be achieved "tomorrow or the day after tomorrow.".

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