U.S. President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin said on Saturday they are satisfied with the communication between their militaries, which has “dramatically” accelerated the losses of the Islamic State (IS) on the battlefield in recent months.
In a joint statement issued after their meeting on the margins of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Da Nang, Vietnam on Saturday, the two leaders confirmed their determination to defeat IS in Syria.
According to the statement, which is posted on the website of the U.S. State Department, they agreed to maintain open channels of communication between the two militaries to help ensure the safety of U.S. and Russian forces engaged in the fight against the IS until its final defeat.
“There is no military solution to the conflict in Syria,” read the statement, adding that the two leaders confirmed that “the ultimate political solution to the conflict must be forged through the Geneva process.”
They affirmed that these steps must include the full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2254, constitutional reform and free and fair elections under UN supervision, “with all Syrians, including members of the diaspora, eligible to participate.”
Trump and Putin also affirmed their commitment to Syria’s sovereignty, unity, independence, territorial integrity and non-sectarian character, urging all Syrian parties to actively participate in the Geneva political process and to support efforts to ensure its success.
They also confirmed the importance of de-escalation areas as an “interim” step to reduce violence in Syria, enforce ceasefire agreements, facilitate unhindered humanitarian access, and set the conditions for the ultimate political solution to the conflict.
In the statement, Trump noted that “he had a good meeting with” Putin, adding that the successful implementation of the agreements “will save thousands of lives.”
Earlier on Saturday, Trump told the media en route to Hanoi that he and Putin could have a great relationship.
Trump said that Putin rejected any involvement in last year’s U.S. presidential election up in his face, saying that “all he (Putin) said is he never did that, he didn’t do that. I think he’s very insulted by it, which is not a good thing for our country.”
“There’s an artificial barrier that (was) put in the way by the Democrats. It’s a fake barrier. There was no collusion,” said Trump. “The Democrats wanted to have a good relationship with Russia, but they couldn’t do it because they didn’t have the talent to do it. They didn’t have the chemistry to do it.”