“In the past we used to export oil; now we export security”, Rouhani said. The White House said it would focus on Ukraine, where the two countries remain at loggerheads over Russian support for pro-Russian Ukrainian rebels in Ukraine’s east, and getting Moscow to live up to a fragile peace plan in the country. From the start, the military had trouble recruiting and vetting Syrians who were interested in fighting against the Islamic State, rather than against Assad.
That seems to be changing, as the Iraqi military announced plans to increase cooperation with both Syria and Russian Federation, along with Iran, in an attempt to better coordinate the regional war against ISIS.
Obama and Putin are scheduled to talk on Monday after Putin addresses the United Nations, although White House and Kremlin officials have disagreed on what the two leaders will discuss and even who initiated the meeting.
“It turns out that only 60 of these fighters have been properly trained, and as few as four or five people actually carry weapons”, Putin said.
“We recognise that Iraq has an interest in sharing information on ISIL (IS) with other governments in the region who are also fighting ISIL”, Colonel Steve Warren told AFP.
Efforts to engage Tehran – a close ally of Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria – in a push to end the protracted civil war have been spurred on by a thaw in relations with the West.
David Cameron is to hold face-to-face talks with Iranian president Hasan Rouhani in a fresh bid to revive the stalled Syrian peace process.
Appearing Sunday on ABC’s “This Week”, Ambassador Power was asked if President Obama could be comfortable with Mr. Assad remaining in office.
Hassan Rouhani told a meeting Sunday evening with scholars and think tank experts that Iran will cooperate with any country that puts fighting and defeating “terrorism” as its top priority – but it can not work with any government that makes a change in Syria’s regime its top priority. However, he said Russia’s stance on Islamic State was similar to others and it had influence over Assad.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, however, told ARD television on Sunday that the formation of a transitional Syrian government should be kept separate from discussions on the future of Assad. “We have got a long way to go in that conversation”, the official said.
The conflict – which has cost more than 250,000 lives, left Europe struggling to deal with a huge influx of refugees and enabled the rise of Islamic State extremists – is set to dominate the annual UN General Assembly.
France had feared strikes in Syria could be counter-productive and could strengthen Assad, but it was shaken by a series of deadly attacks by Islamist militants this year. “We will strike each time that our national security is at stake”, the French Presidency said in a statement.
A French diplomatic source said Paris needed to be one of the “hitters” in Syria – those taking direct military action – to legitimately take part in any negotiations for a political solution to the conflict.