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Assad Meets Putin in a Surprise Visit to Russia

“With the start of a political process in its more active phase, foreign armed forces will be withdrawn from the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic,” Mr. Putin said.

The news agency also paraphrased Mr. Putin’s message, though slightly differently, saying that, “in the course of the meeting Putin announced to Assad that he was counting on the withdrawal of foreign armed forces from the territory of Syria.”

By late Thursday, the Kremlin had not released a full transcript that included mention of the foreign troops.

Assad Meets Putin in a Surprise Visit to Russia
Assad Meets Putin in a Surprise Visit to Russia

Russia is the only major power with significant relations with the main regional antagonists: Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria and Israel. Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, for example, met with Mr. Putin in Moscow on May 9.

Mr. Assad met with Mr. Putin in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. Though the meeting occurred during the day, according to a video recording, Russian state television broadcast news of the visit only late Thursday, for reasons that were unclear.

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