nsnbc : U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a joint statement saying they will continue to de-conflict anti-ISIS efforts in Syria while stating that only a political solution can resolve the war in Syria.
A joint statement released by the White House and the Kremlin said: “The Presidents agreed to maintain open military channels of communication between military professionals to help ensure the safety of both U.S. and Russian forces and de-confliction of partnered forces engaged in the fight against ISIS”. Putin and Trump met on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference in Da Nang, Vietnam, on Saturday.
Both the United States’ and the Russian militaries are supporting counter-ISIS operations in Syria’s eastern Deir ez-Zor province. The Americans are backing local, predominantly Kurdish and local Arab groups who allied to form the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). “They confirmed these efforts will be continued until the final defeat of ISIS is achieved,” added the joint statement.
Russia has supported the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad whose government has also been supported by Hezbollah and Iranian several other Iranian proxies. The United States has previously said Assad must go to bring an end to the more than six-year-long civil war. This position has softened over the course of the last year.
“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 forged through the Geneva process pursuant to UNSCR 2254,” outlined the joint statement.
The United States ended a covert program that supported Syrian rebels shortly after Trump came into office. The United States has, however, at the same time invested more efforts in supporting the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) including, and primarily, its main constituent, the Kurdish Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) military wings, the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the all-female Women’s protection Units (YPJ).
The move created tensions with Turkey. Ankara perceives the PYD, YPG and YPJ as terrorist organizations allied and on par with Turkey’s Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK). The same Kurdish-dominated groups of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) have also established an enclave of Rojava in the north. They are holding their own confederal elections and establishing self governance.
“The Presidents affirmed their commitment to Syria’s sovereignty, unity, independence, territorial integrity, and non-sectarian character, as defined in UNSCR 2254, and urged all Syrian parties to participate actively in the Geneva political process and to support efforts to ensure its success,” added the US-Russian statement. Trump and Putin last met in July in Hamburg.
“Having a relationship with Russia would be a great thing, especially as it relates to North Korea,” Trump told reporters accompanying him on Air Force One. “It would take a lot of danger out of this world. It’s a dangerous time — this isn’t small stuff.” Trump said he and Putin did not have time to discuss North Korea during their brief conversations.
CH/L – nsnbc 12.11.2017