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5 Sep, 2016 14:12

Putin: Russia & US may reach agreement on Syria 'within next few days'

Moscow and Washington may reach an agreement on resolving the Syrian crisis shortly, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday, following a meeting with US counterpart Barack Obama. The two leaders have finally come to a common understanding, Putin said.

"Our collaborative effort with the US in fighting terrorist organizations, including the ones in Syria, may be significantly improved and intensified," Putin said at a press conference on the results of the G20 summit in Hangzhou, China.

Without specifying the details of the talks with Washington, the Russian president said he had "grounds to believe" that results may be achieved "within the next few days."

The Syrian crisis was top of the agenda at the two leaders' meeting in China, Putin said, adding that he felt real interest and concern from the American president in finding solutions in Syria.

"I think he absolutely sincerely aims to reach results in fighting terrorism and resolving the Syrian conflict," Putin said.

The Russian leader told the media he believed that he and Obama had found common ground and mutual understanding on the issues both countries are facing. The two presidents managed to discuss everything in detail, Putin said.

"It was mainly the two of us who had the discussion, going into detail. I think we have reached mutual understanding," he told reporters, adding that the nations' top diplomats have now been tasked with working further on the "technical" questions.

The Russian Foreign Ministry and its head, Sergey Lavrov, together with US Secretary of State John Kerry will work on the preliminary agreements on Syria reached by the presidents, Putin said, adding that the nations are heading "in the right direction."

"We could, at least for a period of time, agree on mutual and active efforts to recover the situation in Syria," the president said, stressing that any moves should be taken in consultation with the Syrian government. "Our other partners, including Iran, will also be informed [on the progress]," Putin added.

At a separate press conference on the results of the G20 summit, US leader Barack Obama also talked about his meeting with Putin. Saying that they discussed "a range of issues," the American president noted the situation in Syria was the most important of them. The presidents talked "ways in which we can institute a meaningful, serious, verifiable cessation of hostilities in Syria and our capacity to provide some humanitarian relief” to the Syrian people, Obama told the media.

"Typically the tone of our meetings [is] candid, blunt, businesslike - and this one was no different," the US president said, adding that in China he and Putin "had some productive conversations," as both countries need to "focus attention on common enemies, like ISIL [Islamic State] and Al-Nusra." Having mentioned "the gaps of trust" that exist between the two nations' leaders, Obama said that the work to close them is in progress.

"[M]y instructions to Secretary Kerry and Mr Putin's instructions to [Foreign Minister] Mr Lavrov were to keep working at it over the next several days," the US leader told the media.

'To normalize Russia-US relations, Washington should lift sanctions'

The issue of the Syrian crisis dominated the discussion at Putin and Obama's meeting on the G20 sidelines, but the leaders also touched upon other problems, the Russian president told the media. Ukraine was mentioned at the meeting, Putin said, without specifying further.

The Russian leader also said that Moscow welcomes the renewal of full-scale relations with Washington, but for progress to be made the US should lift its sanctions implemented in connection with the Ukrainian crisis.

Some decisions, including the policy of sanctions, worsen relations between the two nations, and to improve them restrictions should simply be reconsidered, Putin said.

Speaking at his press conference, the US leader said that he had "made very clear" that the United States was not going to roll back sanctions until the Minsk agreements, previously reached between Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France, were implemented. An "effort [to make the deal work] should increase in urgency over the next several weeks," Obama said.

Washington should "aim to find a compromise which would reflect the interests of both cooperating sides," Putin said, adding that sometimes the US leadership only considers its "own benefit."

Moscow however always welcomes any contact with the US, according to the Russian leader, who said that Washington is one of Russia's key partners in a number of fields, including international security.