The Syrian conflict “does not have a military solution,” the Russian and US presidents agreed, according to a written statement issued on the sidelines of the APEC summit. The document was released as both nations are at odds on a number of international issues.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Donald Trump stressed that a settlement of the Syrian conflict must be reached through the Geneva peace process. Moscow and Washington also reiterated their commitment to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the war-torn state.
“The presidents agreed that there is no military solution to the conflict in Syria. They confirmed that the ultimate political solution to the conflict must be found through the Geneva process in accordance with the UN Security Council resolution 2254,” the statement reads.
The leaders also gave the green light “to support the existing military communication channels” to enhance the security of US and Russian forces fighting Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists in Syria.
The joint agreement was worked out in advance by officials from both nations, and agreed upon by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Russian news agencies report, citing Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
Just two days before the key statement on Syria was issued, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that Trump and Putin have nothing “sufficiently substantive to talk about” at the moment. Relations between Moscow and Washington are currently at the “lowest point” since the Cold War.
World leaders gathered in Da Nang, Vietnam for the 25th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) international summit. The joint statement had been specifically prepared for the respective gathering, Peskov said.
An official meeting between Putin and Trump on the sidelines of the summit was considered by both sides, but was decided against at the last moment. The White House cited “scheduling conflicts” as a reason. However, the leaders managed to chat on their way to a group photo.
The bilateral agreement also stresses the importance of the de-escalation zones in Syria as an “interim measure” to reduce the violence and create the conditions for a settlement of the conflict. The proposal to create the zones in the war-torn country was championed by Russia and was finalized during the September round of the Syria peace talks in Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana with the creation of the fourth zone in Idlib.
A further step towards resolving the conflict was made after Putin and Trump met for the first time at the G20 summit in Hamburg in July, when the leaders announced that a “breakthrough” ceasefire deal was agreed upon for southwestern Syria.