Trump, Putin Welcome Assad's Pledge to Resolve Syria Fight

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and President Donald Trump talk during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Danang, Vietnam, on Nov. 11. (AP Photo/Hau Dinh)
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and President Donald Trump talk during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Danang, Vietnam, on Nov. 11. (AP Photo/Hau Dinh)

DANANG, Vietnam -- Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Donald Trump say they welcome President Bashar Assad's "recent statement of commitment" to the Geneva process for resolving the conflict in Syria.

Putin and Trump met on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference in Vietnam.

Assad's commitment to the process, in line with a U.N. Security Council resolution, implies "constitutional reform and free and fair elections under the supervision of the United Nations" in which all Syrians can participate, including those in the diaspora, a Kremlin statement said.

Trump and Putin reaffirmed support for de-escalation zones in Syria, including one in the southwest that was agreed to in the presidents' previous meeting in July in Germany. They also called on U.N. members to increase humanitarian aid contributions for Syria.

The Kremlin also said on Saturday that Trump and Putin have reaffirmed their countries' intentions to defeat the Islamic State group in Syria. The two leaders agreed to support existing communications channels to ensure the security of U.S. and Russian armed forces, as well as to prevent dangerous incidents involving the forces of partners fighting IS. 

The Kremlin said Trump and Putin also agreed that the Syrian conflict "does not have a military solution," and that final resolution must come in the framework of the so-called Geneva Process.

The White House so far has not commented.

Trump and Putin may not be having a formal meeting while they're in Vietnam for an economic summit, but they appear to be chumming it up nonetheless. Snippets of video from the APEC conference Saturday show the two leaders chatting and shaking hands at events, including the traditional world leaders' group photo.

U.S. intelligence agencies concluded last year that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election in order to help Trump win. Putin has denied interfering in the election.

Later Saturday, Trump heads to the capital city of Hanoi to attend a state banquet.

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