Modi, Putin talks to focus on terror, regional issues

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

Russian President Vladimir Putin is hosting German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Sochi, where they are expected to discuss the Iran deal, Syria, Ukraine and more.

Since fighting broke out in Syria in 2011, the Syrian president has traveled three times to Russian Federation for talks with Putin - visits that underscored Moscow's status as Assad's chief backer.

It said the two also discussed economic cooperation and growing investments by Russian companies in Syria.

At the meeting, which had not been announced in advance, Putin congratulated the Syrian leader on what he said were significant successes on the battlefield achieved by the Syrian military.

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

Syria has been embroiled in a complicated, multi-sided civil war involving foreign powers, rebels and jihadists. Its military support not only ensured the survival of Assad's regime but also changed the course of the war.

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In a statement from the Syrian presidency, Assad added on Thursday "we have evaluated the political process" and will select candidates for a constitutional committee, a suggestion proposed in January at a summit in Sochi, that will work with the United Nations.

"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.

Assad assured that the country returns to stability and it promotes the political process begun earlier.

"During today's meeting we have agreed upon the next steps with the Syrian president related to countering terrorism and the terrorist groups in Syria", Putin said. "However, together with you and our other partners and friends, we will move firmly forward with the peace process", Assad was quoted as saying.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Western attacks in the country removed any moral obstacle to arming Syria.

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