News ID: 113409
Publish Date : 15 March 2023 - 21:53

Syrian President in Moscow for Talks With Putin

DAMASCUS (Dispatches) – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is in Moscow at the head of a ranking delegation for high-level talks with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
Assad arrived at Moscow’s Vnukovo International Airport, heading a “large ministerial delegation,” the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported.
He was welcomed by Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov.
The Kremlin said in a statement that Putin would be holding talks with the Syrian chief executive.
“Topical issues of further development of Russian-Syrian cooperation in the political, trade, economic, and humanitarian spheres, as well as prospects for a comprehensive settlement of the situation in and around Syria will be discussed,” the Kremlin said in a statement.
The meeting comes on the anniversary of the 12-year foreign-backed war in Syria that has killed nearly 500,000 people and displaced half of the country’s prewar population.
Russia played an important role in helping Damascus out after the Arab country found itself in the grip of rampant foreign-backed violence in 2011.
In September 2015, Moscow launched a campaign of backup aerial flights that helped the Syrian army and its allies take back huge swathes of the Syrian territory from foreign-backed militants and terrorists.
Together with Iran and Turkey, Russia has also served as one of the guarantors of negotiations between the Syrian government and opposition. The negotiations have mostly been held in the Kazakh capital of Astana since 2017 towards restoring the Arab country’s situation back to normal.
Also on Tuesday, media reports said ties between Damascus and Ankara would also be among the topics of Assad and Putin’s talks during the Syrian head of state’s stay.
The Syrian, Turkish and Russian deputy foreign ministers as well as a senior adviser to their Iranian counterpart are also set to hold talks in Moscow to discuss “counterterrorism efforts” in Syria.
Asked if Putin’s talks with Assad could play a role in restoring Syria’s ties with Turkey, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov responded that “the issue of the Syrian-Turkish relations will undoubtedly be part of the talks’ agenda.”
Meanwhile, the World Food Program said on Wednesday hunger and malnutrition are rising sharply in Syria and more than half its population is short of food after 12 years of war, economic pressures, Western-led sanctions, and last month’s earthquake.
“The situation is worse than ever in Syria, the United Nations agency’s Middle East director, Corrine Fleischer, told Reuters.
About 55% of Syria’s population of some 12.1 million people are food insecure and a further 2.9 million are at risk of sliding into hunger, a WFP report said.
Data show malnutrition is rising and that stunting and maternal malnutrition rates are at unprecedented levels.
“We’re very, very concerned that hunger is on a steep rise in Syria,” Fleischer said.