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Putin calls full ceasefire ‘next step’ for normalization in Syria

Vladimir Putin says Russia, Turkey agreed on Ankara’s assistance in militants’ exit from Aleppo

TOKYO, December 16. /TASS/. A full ceasefire is the next step for normalizing the situation in Syria after the liberation of Aleppo, Russian President Vladimir Putin said after talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday.

"I hope very much that the Syrian army will gain a foothold after successful combat actions in Aleppo and civilians will be able to return to normal life. Several thousand people have already come back to their houses, although they are half-destroyed," Putin said.

"The next stage is reaching agreements on a full ceasefire in entire Syria," the Russian leader stressed.

"All that is happening in Palmyra is a result of uncoordinated actions between the so-called international coalition, the Syrian government and Russia. I have repeatedly said that we should unite efforts for effective fight against terrorists," Putin said.

Putin said on Friday he reached an agreement with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during their phone conversation earlier this week to ask the conflicting parties in Syria to hold talks in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana.

"The day before yesterday in a phone conversation we agreed with President Erdogan that we will offer the conflicting parties - we to the government of Syria and the Turkish president to the representatives of the armed opposition - to continue peace talks at a new venue, and this could be Kazakhstan’s capital Astana," Putin said.

If the parties to the conflict - the Syrian government forces and the armed opposition - agree with the proposal, "we will ask Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev to back this process," Putin said.

"Judging from what I see, (in Syria) things are happening in accordance with the agreements I reached with the Turkish president during his visit to St. Petersburg. We agreed that Turkey would provide every possible assistance in arranging the exit of those militants who were ready to lay down their arms, first and foremost, to protect civilians," Putin said.

Putin said "if this happens, this won’t be a venue that will compete with Geneva, but it will complement the Geneva talks." "In any case, no matter where the conflicting sides meet, in my view, it would be right to do this and to seek political settlement," the Russian leader said.