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US agrees not to discuss Assad’s future: Russia

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (R) meets Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov in Damascus in this June 28, 2014 photo. (SANA)

Russia says it has reached an understanding with the US over not discussing the future of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for the time being.

"To a large extent, the current political process became possible because in the long run Moscow found understanding in Washington of our basic thesis that deciding the issue of the future of Syria's president should not be on the agenda at this stage," the Interfax news agency quoted Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying on Friday.

Ryabkov made the remarks while commenting on the outcome of US Secretary of State John Kerry's Thursday visit to Russia.

Referring to a temporary truce agreement proposed by Russia and the United States, which came into force across Syria on February 27, Kerry said, "The result of that work has produced some progress. There has been a fragile (yet) nevertheless beneficial reduction in violence." 

The agreement stipulated the cessation of all military hostilities in Syria, except for the operations against the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group and the Syrian al-Qaeda, known as al-Nusra Front. 

Ryabkov also said that a “mutual understanding” has been reached with Washington over bolstering the cessation of hostilities.

“The questions are whether this is enough and whether it can be documented, but this is a question for the military," he said.

No complete withdrawal in sight

The Russian official further stressed that a complete Russian troops withdrawal from Syria would not take place in the near future.

"We have explained repeatedly that the tasks set before the group are aimed at countering terrorism and the Daesh and al-Nusra Front groups that are banned in Russia. This fact raises no questions with the Americans, so there can be no talk of a full withdrawal," he said. 

This image taken on March 15, 2016 shows Russian Su-34 bombers and a Tupolev Tu-154 transport plane flying above an unknown location on their way from the Hmeimim airbase in Syria to their permanent bases in Russia. (AFP)

On March 14, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that "the main part" of the Russian forces would start to withdraw from Syria, and that diplomats had been called upon to increase their efforts for a peaceful solution to the five-year-long conflict.  

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