Putin: Assad Ready to Share Power

Putin: Assad Ready to Share PowerPutin: Assad Ready to Share Power

Russian president says his Syrian counterpart is ready to hold elections and allow opposition to share power.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that Syria’s Bashar al-Assad is ready to hold snap parliamentary elections and allow a “healthy” opposition to share power.

The Syrian president “is in agreement with” holding elections for parliament, as well as establishing contacts with the  opposition and bringing them into the leadership, Putin told reporters on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok on Friday.

“Overall there is an understanding that the unification of forces in the fight against terrorism should proceed in parallel with some sort of political process within Syria,” Putin said, according to a Kremlin statement.

“This is primarily an issue of Syria’s internal development. We are not imposing anything, but we are ready to promote this internal Syrian dialogue,” Putin said, Al Jazeera reported.

A flurry of recent high-level diplomatic contacts have so far failed to yield a breakthrough on the key point of contention in the conflict.

“If it’s impossible today to organise joint work directly on the battlefield between all those countries interested in fighting terrorism, it’s indispensable to at least establish some sort of coordination between them,” Putin said.

Putin told reporters that Syrian refugees were mainly fleeing IS, which has gained large swaths of Syria and Iraq over the past year.

“People are running away not from the regime of Bashar al-Assad, but from the Islamic State, which has conquered significant territory in Syria and Iraq,” Putin said at the forum.