Cameron hints he could work with Putin to defeat Islamic State

Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L) welcomes Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron © Grigory Dukor
The British PM is ready to cooperate with Russia to defeat the Islamic State, a spokesperson for Prime Minister David Cameron has said. Simultaneously, an unnamed government source told the Sunday Telegraph, that Downing Street did not rule out keeping Assad in power in the short term.

“We are clear ISIL [also known as IS and ISIS] poses a threat as much to Russia as it does to Europe and other countries around the world and therefore we should be able to find a way forward to work together,” Sky News cited Cameron’s spokeswoman as saying.

The official also set the limits for possible cooperation with Moscow, which has been supporting the legitimate president of Syria throughout four years of the conflict in the country. The spokeswoman said that President Assad should go, stressing he “cannot stay as leader” in Syria.

“ISIL and Assad are both the enemies of the Syrian people,” she said.

The Sunday Telegraph newspaper however reported that British Prime Minister David Cameron is open to keeping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in power, but for a short period of time, when a unity government is being formed in the country.

The newspaper cited an unnamed government source, according to which Cameron's view is as follows: “There is not a long-term, stable, peaceful future for Syria where Syrian people can return home with President Assad as its leader.”

“There has always been the idea that there would be a political transition," the source was quoted as saying, which could be interpreted that President Assad could stay in power during that period.


Earlier this week, German Chancellor Chancellor Angela Merkel also signaled a possible compromise, saying that the resolution of the Syrian crisis would imply cooperation with “many actors, among them Assad,” Reuters cited Merkel as saying.

In a recent interview the Russian president gave to CBS’s ‘60 Minutes,’ Vladimir Putin said that the only way to settle the Syrian conflict is to support the existing legitimate government in its fight against terrorism.

“Today, terrorism threatens a great number of states, a great number of people – hundreds of thousands, millions of people suffer from its criminal activity. And we all face the task of joining our efforts in the fight against this common evil,” Putin told veteran journalist Charlie Rose.

Two weeks ago Russia Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Syrian army could become a crucial force in fight against Islamic State, reiterating that Russia will support the Syrian government in the fight against the extremist group.

“To exclude Syrian army from fighting Islamic State [formerly ISIS/ISIL] is absurd… Syrian armed forces will be the most effective military force on the ground,” Lavrov said in an interview to Russia’s Channel One TV.

READ MORE: Excluding Syrian army from fighting ISIS is absurd – Lavrov

Regarding the 70th jubilee session of the United Nations General Assembly opening this Monday, it is going to be marked with addresses of several high-ranked speakers, including President Vladimir Putin, who has not appeared in UN headquarters in New York for a decade now, since his second term.

The session, that will host leaders of the US, China, Russia, the UK and many others, will become a ground for dozens of bilateral meeting of the on the margins of the summit.

President Putin is set to hold a meeting with his American counterpart and Syria is believed to be dominating their conversation.

PM Cameron is likely to put out an initiative to put an end to the civil war in Syria by diplomatic terms.

British PM will also be meeting President Obama in New York and their talk is also expected to be centered on the Syrian crisis. David Cameron is not expected to meet Vladimir Putin.