Monday, February 22, 2016
Russia and US Agree on Steps to Stop Fighting in Syria
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the Syrian ceasefire agreement is a "real step that can stop the bloodshed."
On Monday, the Kremlin released details of the Syrian ceasefire plan the US and Russia agreed upon. The two countries had to conduct several rounds of secret negotiations before settling all details and making them public. According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the plan of ceasing hostilities presents a "real step that can stop the bloodshed."
Before releasing details of the peace plan, Putin and Obama held a private telephone conversation, in which Putin stressed that the cooperation between Moscow and Washington should serve as an example of efforts against terrorism.
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"The Russian-American agreements on a ceasefire in Syria, and their joint implementation in coordination with all participant countries of the International Syria Support Group [ISSG] can serve as an example of responsible policy, based on international law and UN principles, actions of the international community against the threat of terrorism," Putin said.
He said that Russia will do everything to ensure that the ceasefire is implemented, working closely with the Syrian government, and expects the US to convince Syrian opposition groups to respect the agreement.
"We will do whatever is necessary with Damascus, with the legitimate Syrian authorities," Putin said. "We are counting on the United States to do the same with its allies and the groups that it supports."
The two countries will work jointly to determine which groups the ceasefire applies to.
"The main objective now that the Russian and US sides set in their joint statement is to end unnecessary bloodshed in Syria and continue the war on terror, thus facilitating the political settlement in this country," said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
Six batteries of NATO-backed missile defense systems have been set up in southeastern Turkey to protect against aerial attacks from war-torn Syria (File)
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Putin also said he expects Middle Eastern countries to support the plan.
"I would like to hope that the Syrian leadership and all our partners in the region and beyond it, will support the algorithm of actions selected by representatives of Russia and the United States," Putin said.
Speaking to reporters, White House spokesman Josh Earnest confirmed that the White House contacted the Kremlin on Monday.
"This is a moment of opportunity and we are hopeful that all the parties will capitalize on it," Earnest said. He cautioned, however, that "this is going to be difficult to implement."
Moscow plans to continue "intensive dialogue" with all parties involved in the conflict.
The ceasefire agreement was reached after several rounds of talks behind closed doors.
"There were a few rounds of closed consultations, not public consultations," Peskov said.
The ceasefire is set to take effect on Saturday.