As part of a new joint statement on Syria between the U.S. and Russia, the two countries have agreed that Syria must eventually hold UN-supervised elections to bring new leadership to the country as part of the process of ending its multi-year civil war, according to two senior State Department officials.
That agreement puts into writing the fact that those elections would follow the rules outlined in the U.S. Security Council resolution known as 2254. That resolution says voting will include the ballots of the Syrian diaspora, displaced from the country by years of war, the officials added.
The State Department officials stressed that the joint statement shores up the areas of agreement between the U.S. and Russia as to Syria’s political future, while acknowledging that work still remained — particularly on the de-escalation zones inside Syria.
“Despite our many difference with Russia, we can work together and do that in the service of our national security,” one of the officials.
The joint statements comes out of intense and ongoing discussions with Russian officials, led by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, one senior State Department official added, with the latest round of negotiations taking place last week in Amman, Jordan between Tillerson and Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
President Trump informally spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam. There, he asked Putin about Russia’s meddling in the U.S. elections and later told reporters that he believe Putin’s insistence that Russia did not intervene — calling the probes into the collusion and his campaign an “artificial Democratic hit job.:
“Every time he sees me he says, ‘I didn’t do that,’ and I really believe, that when he tells me that, he means it,” Trump told reporters on Air Force One about Putin. “I think he is very insulted by it, if you want to know the truth. Don’t forget. All he said was he never did that, he didn’t do that. I think he is very insulted by it, which is not a good thing for our country.”