Putin hails Russian-U.S. ‘mutual understanding’ on Syria

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(Interfax – October 8, 2013) Russian President Vladimir Putin has welcomed the Syrian leadership’s response to the Russian-US proposal for eliminating the country’s chemical weapons, adding that he hoped this work would continue in the pace and spirit it had started in. He also expressed satisfaction with the position his US counterpart Barack Obama had taken on Syria. Putin was speaking at a news conference summing up the results of the APEC summit on the Indonesian island of Bali, as reported by Russian news agency Interfax on 8 October.

Putin said: “We have agreed with the US partners what and how we should do in the mid-term (to resolve the situation in Syria). Doubts as to whether the Syrian leadership will adequately react to the decisions taken on chemical weapons have turned out to be unfounded. The Syrian leadership have very actively joined in this work, and are acting in a very transparent fashion. I hope that this work will continue at the same pace and in the same spirit.”

Interfax further quoted him as saying that Russian-US disagreements on the Syria issue were “tactical”. Putin said: “The USA does not want Al-Qa’idah to come to power in Syria, does it? We do not want it either. We have common goals regarding the situation in that country.”

“We have a mutual understanding of what and how we should be doing. I am very glad that President Obama has taken this position; it must have been a rather difficult situation for him. He has taken the decision he has taken and this has made it possible not only to bring our positions closer but to avoid a tragedy in Syria,” Putin told the news conference, as quoted by a later Interfax report on the same day.

He also suggested expanding the list of countries to attend the proposed Geneva-2 international conference on Syria by adding the world’s largest Muslim country, Indonesia, to it, another Interfax report from the news conference said. “That would be natural,” Putin said.