Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was ready to hold snap parliamentary elections and could share power with a “healthy” opposition.
Russia, along with Iran, has been Assad’s principle international ally in the war that has raged in Syria for four-and-a-half years and has claimed a quarter of a million lives.
Putin told newsmen during the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok that ` `we really want to create some kind of international coalition to fight terrorism and extremism’’.
He added that he had spoken to U.S. President Barack Obama on the matter.
“We are also working with our partners in Syria, in general, the understanding is that this uniting of efforts in fighting terrorism should go in parallel to some political process in Syria itself.
“And the Syrian president agrees with that, all the way down to holding early elections, let’s say, parliamentary ones, establishing contacts with the so-called healthy opposition, bringing them into governing,’’ he said.
Russia has made clear it does not want to see Assad toppled and has seized on gains made by Islamic State in Syria and Iraq to urge his foreign foes, including the United States and Saudi Arabia, to work with Damascus to combat the common enemy.
In the same development, Putin also said the West had itself to blame for the migrant crisis that had seen hundreds of thousands of people fleeing the Middle East via the Mediterranean Sea and land routes across the Balkans, with many dying trying to reach the EU. (Rueters/NAN)