Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday held a phone conversation with his Syrian counterpart to discuss anticipated peace talks and the process of dismantling the war-torn nation’s chemical arsenal.
The conversation with Bashar Assad, whose regime is battling rebel forces in an over-two-year civil war, was requested by the Russian side.
The presidents expressed hope that Syria’s main opposition groups would “adopt a constructive approach” to the planned peace conference and “participate,” the Kremlin said in an English-language statement.
“The two leaders also talked about work by international inspectors to oversee the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons,” the statement reads.
The Russian president also spoke positively about the Syrian authorities’ cooperation with an international team of chemical experts to seize and destroy the arsenal.
The joint team, acting under the auspices of the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, arrived in Syria this fall in accordance with a US-Russian plan.
It has not yet been decided how or where destruction of the chemical weapons will be carried out.
The phone call was the first between the two presidents since the start of the Syrian civil war, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Thursday.
Peskov said he did not know when the next such conversation would take place.