Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad for talks at which the two men agreed that the focus in the Syrian conflict was now switching from military operations to the search for a political solution.
In comments that were released by the Kremlin early today, Putin told the Syrian leader he wanted to meet him in advance of a gathering, planned for this week in Russia, with the leaders of Turkey and Iran – two other powers heavily involved in the conflict in Syria.
Putin also said he would follow up his meeting with Assad with telephone calls to U.S. President Donald Trump, and to Middle Eastern leaders including the emir of Qatar.
According to the Kremlin, the meeting happened in the Russian black sea resort of Sochi, where Putin has a residence, but details were not released until this morning.
Putin and Assad last met on Oct. 20, 2015 in Moscow, a few weeks after Moscow launched a military operation in Syria that turned the tide of the conflict in Assad’s favor.