Vladimir Putin calls for 'political process' on Syria

Bashar al-Assad has travelled to Russia to meet Vladimir Putin

Syrian President Bashar Assad made a surprise visit to Russian Federation to meet President Vladimir Putin on Thursday at his summer residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

The warships will remain on "permanent standby" to counter the "remaining terrorist threat in Syria", Russian state media quoted Putin as saying during a gathering of military and defense industry leaders at the Black Sea resort city of Sochi.

A posting on the Syrian presidency's Facebook page said the two leaders consulted on various issues of mutual interest and the latest political and military developments in Syria.

Assad also told the Russian president that he plans to send a delegation to the United Nations to discuss reforms to Syria's constitution, the AP reported, citing Putin's spokesman.

Moscow has backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in that country's civil war since 2015, ensuring the survival of a Middle Eastern ally and guaranteeing continued access to the strategically vital Mediterranean Sea.

"I want to congratulate you on considerable achievements of the Syrian government army in fight against terrorist units".

"The next task, of course, is the economic recovery and humanitarian aid for those people in a hard situation", Putin added.

"And of course, the next task is economic recovery and humanitarian assistance to the people who found themselves in a hard situation", the Russian president said.

"Stability is improving, and all that opens the doors to the political process, which we started a while ago", Assad told Putin, according to a transcript of the opening remarks from the meeting posted on the Kremlin website.

Russian television broadcast short clips from the two men's discussion.

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