Trump, Putin agree to maintain military communications in Syria

(AhlulBayt News Agency) - Russian President Vladimir Putin and his American counterpart, Donald Trump, have agreed during a brief meeting to maintain military communications in Syria.

The Kremlin said on Saturday that the two leaders had approved a joint statement during a brief meeting on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders’ summit in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang.

Putin and Trump agreed “to maintain the existing military communication channels to ensure the security of US and Russian armed forces, as well as to prevent dangerous incidents involving the forces of allies fighting the Daesh terror group,” according to the text of the statement, as published on the Kremlin’s website.

They stressed that there was no military solution to the Syrian crisis — which began in 2011 — and confirmed their commitment to Syria’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity.

The Russian and US presidents also called on all parties to the Syrian conflict to play an active role in the United Nations (UN)-brokered peace talks in the Swiss city of Geneva.

The statement had been prepared by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US State Secretary Rex Tillerson earlier on Saturday, Russia’s Sputnik news agency reported.

There had been speculation on whether the two presidents would meet in Vietnam. While no official meeting had been scheduled, both sides had pointed to the likelihood of a brief meeting.

Moscow and Washington support opposing sides in the Syrian conflict. Russia assists the Syrian government and has been carrying out an aerial bombardment campaign against terrorist positions in Syria. The US backs anti-Damascus militants and is also involved in military operations against purported Daesh targets.

The US and Russian militaries set up a communication hotline to avoid mid-air collisions and other potential accidents in Syria.

Russia cut the hotline in response to a US missile attack against a Syrian airbase in Syria’s Homs Province on April 7. Russian military advisers had been stationed near the base, and Russia deemed the American missile strike hazardous.

Later, however, the communications line was reestablished.



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