Trump and Putin agree to pursue a Syrian ceasefire

Cheryl Sanders
May 4, 2017

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday said he had a "very good" conversation over the phone with President Trump, and that his US counterpart agreed to a proposal to establish Syrian safe zones to protect civilians in the war-torn country.

The Kremlin's plan echoes calls by United States leader Donald Trump to establish safe zones in Syria and Putin said "as far I could tell" the U.S. leader broadly supported the idea in a phone call they held on Tuesday. Syria's Foreign Ministry said on May 4 that Damascus "fully backed" a Russian initiative to establish four areas of cease-fire in the war-torn country.

Speaking to Turkish reporters aboard his plane flying back from the meeting in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Erdogan said such zones would include Idlib, part of Aleppo province, El-Rastan in Homs province, a part of Damascus and part of Daraa.

The press service of the Kremlin said that Putin and Trump agreed to intensify the dialogue between the foreign ministers of both countries, and also spoke in favor of organizing a personal meeting.

Relations between Russian Federation and Turkey have also improved greatly, despite the two countries supporting opposites sides in Syria.

According to Russian-state media, plans for at least four "de-escalation zones" were being considered in Astana.

The White House and the Kremlin released separate summaries of the Tuesday phone call between Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, showing some slight differences in their respective readouts of the conversation.

Syrian opposition delegates walked out of the conference hall as officials from the three guarantor nations signed the deal.

Russia, a close ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, is also reportedly circulating a proposal for safe zones. The White House readout of the call made no mention of that part of the discussion. This process should lead to the full restoration of the territorial integrity of the country (Syria) and creation of a unified government, independently of the positions of the political forces existing today. The conversation marks the first direct communication since the US bombed a Syrian air base last month, and is a preliminary step in fulfilling one of his campaign promises.

But Putin said Wednesday that Russian Federation s embargo on the import of tomatoes from Turkey and its visa restrictions on Turkish nationals will remain in place for the time being.

Syrian government and rebel delegations gathered yesterday for the start of a fourth round of talks sponsored by regime backers Russian Federation and Iran and opposition supporter Turkey.

Merkel last visited Russian Federation in May 2015 when she met Putin in Moscow and the two leaders have scaled back contacts as the Ukraine crisis has driven ties to a post-Cold War low.

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