DANANG, Nov 12 (SABAH): The United States and Russia issued a presidential joint statement saying there was “no military solution” to the war in Syria after their leaders met briefly on the sidelines of a regional summit in Vietnam.
There had been mixed messages for days from both Moscow and the White House on whether President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin would hold face-to-face discussions during the APEC summit in Danang.
The statement, issued by officials from both sides, said the two presidents had made progress on Syria, which has been battered by six years of civil war.
The US and Russia have backed competing factions in the bloody conflict, and agreement on the next steps towards peace is rare.
“The presidents agreed that there is no military solution to the conflict in Syria,” the statement said, adding that the two sides “confirmed their determination to defeat ISIS”.
The statement added that the two sides had agreed to keep military channels open to avoid potential clashes over Syria and urged the warring sides to participate in UN-led peace talks in Geneva.
“The Presidents affirmed their commitment to Syria’s sovereignty, unity, independence, territorial integrity, and non-sectarian character,” it said.
According to senior State Department officials, the statement was the result of “months of fairly intense discussions” and was finalised on the margins of the APEC summit between diplomats.
It represents Russia’s firm commitment to the UN backed peace process, one of the officials said.
“We made very clear that there will not be any reconstruction aid in Syria until there is a meaningful political process moving along the timeline,” he said.
“I cannot speak to the Russians, but I think it might be one of the reasons why they clearly committed to the fact that the ultimate resolution to the civil war will be under the Geneva process,” he added.