Trump, Putin talk Syria, N.Korea in 1-hour call

Wednesday, 22 Nov, 2017

Putin told Trump that Bashar Assad confirmed his commitment to political reforms in Syria, including constitutional amendments. The congress is expected to be held in Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi, but the date and participants are not clear yet. Yesterday's meeting was unannounced and the Kremlin did not make it public until this morning.

The fate of Assad remains a huge stumbling block, preventing global players from reaching a peace settlement over Syria's six-year war.

Anti-government protests broke out in Syria in 2011, and the government's brutal response sparked a civil war that has wracked swathes of the country.

It's the first time the two leaders have met since October 2015, just a month after Russian Federation came to the aid of the embattled dictator with a series of airstrikes against rebels opposing Assad's regime.

On Sunday, the foreign ministers of Iran, Turkey and Russian Federation convened in the Turkish city of Antalya to discuss the outcome of several rounds of expert-level sessions and finalize the agenda of the presidential meeting. Assad was called to Russian Federation to get him to agree to potential peace initiatives drafted by the other three countries, the Kremlin said.

The Kremlin said that during his phone call with Trump Putin had stressed the "need to keep Syria's sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity intact". They agreed on a number of principles for the future of Syria.

Faced with pressure from other nations urging Mr Assad to step down, Moscow has insisted that it is up to the Syrian people to vote Mr Assad in or out.