MOSCOW, November 21. /TASS/. Chairman of Russia’s State Duma (lower house) International Affairs Committee, Leonid Slutsky, has said that he considers the meeting between Russian and Syrian Presidents Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad in the context of the Syrian settlement and the war on terror to be a breakthrough.
"One can say that the meeting between the Russian and Syrian presidents was a breakthrough. It virtually dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s regarding the Syrian settlement issue in the context of the war against international terrorism," Slutsky told reporters on Tuesday. In his view, the outcome of the Sochi negotiations "can somewhat shape the foundation for further efforts to hammer out a roadmap and pull Syria out of the terrorist encirclement as well as stabilize the intra-political dialogue." "I am confident that all these phases will end in the near future," he added.
Slutsky also pointed to the fact that the Syrian president asked Vladimir Putin to provide support in the future to protect the country from external meddling in the political process, which, he believes, depends on the Syrians themselves. "I hope this message will be heeded in the ranks of our strategic friends," the lawmaker added.
Russian and Syrian Presidents Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad discussed on Monday the political settlement in Syria along with preparations for the Syrian National Dialogue Congress due to be held within the next few days. The meeting took place as part of the Syrian leader’s working visit to Russia.
The Russian head of state recalled that he would hold a meeting with Turkish and Iranian Presidents Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Hassan Rouhani in Sochi on November 22. According to Putin, in addition to the aforementioned partners, Russia is actively working with other countries too, such as Iraq, the United States, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, and maintains permanent contacts with them.
For his part, Assad thanked Putin on behalf of the Syrians for assistance in "upholding the country’s territorial integrity and independence." The Syrian leader added that Damascus is currently "interested in promoting the political process" and hopes for "Russia’s support in ensuring non-interference by external players in this political process."