Assad meets Putin in Russia's Sochi

Bashar al Assad shakes hands with Vladimir Putin during a meeting at Bocharov Ruchei residence in Sochi

Russian President Vladimir Putin believes time has come for rebuilding the Syrian economy and suggested Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to discuss these plans.

"With the start of the political process in its most active phase, foreign armed forces will withdraw from Syrian territory", Mr Putin said, without specifying which foreign forces. Support allies Russian Federation and Iran played a crucial role in the Syrian military reversing gains by rebels and jihadis, and Putin congratulated his Syrian counterpart on "the significant success of the Syrian government army in the fight against terrorist groups", which he should be followed by "a full-fledged political process".

Putin said the next task is "economic recovery and humanitarian assistance to the people who found themselves in a hard situation".

Syria's Bashar Assad traveled to the Black Sea resort town of Sochi in Russian Federation on Thursday for talks with Putin, the Kremlin said.

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Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since 2011 when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.

Putin said that along with giving a boost to a political process, it is important "to take necessary steps towards rebuilding the Syrian economy, as well as settle long-pending hard, but pressing humanitarian issues".

In a statement from the Syrian presidency, Mr Assad said "we have evaluated the political process" and will select candidates for a constitutional committee, a suggestion proposed in January at a summit in Sochi, that will work with the United Nations.

A transcript of Thursday's meeting released by the Kremlin quoted Assad as saying that Syria is making progress in fighting "terrorism", which "opens the door to the political process". "Now, we can make next moves jointly with you [Assad]", he added.

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