Obama, Putin discuss Syrian crisis over phone

and have held frank talks on the Syrian crisis with the US President pressing his Russian counterpart to play a “constructive role” and stop Russia’s air campaign against the war-torn country’s moderate opposition.

Amid US’ concern over Turkish shelling of Kurdish targets in northern Syria days before a ceasefire deal is due to take hold, Obama called Putin to discuss the current situation in the war-torn country and the steps that the two countries can take to resolve issues.

Obama emphasised the importance of playing a “constructive role” by ceasing its air campaign against moderate opposition forces in Syria, the said.

The two leaders discussed the decisions and agreements made at the February 11 meeting of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG).

During the phone call yesterday, Obama stressed the importance of rapidly implementing humanitarian access to besieged areas of Syria and initiating a nationwide cessation of hostilities.

The leaders agreed that the United States and Russia will remain in communication on the important work of the ISSG, the White House said.

Both sides “gave a positive evaluation” of the results of talks in Munich last week, according to a Kremlin statement.

The statement termed the discussions as “frank and business-like”.

Putin reiterated that a united anti-terrorist coalition was needed in Syria.

Russia has led an aerial campaign to support the regime’s ground operation since September.

The leaders “agreed to activate cooperation via diplomatic agencies and other structures with the goal of implementing the declaration reached in Munich” on Friday, the statement said.

Turkey shelled positions held by the main Kurdish militia in northern Syria for a second day today. The bombings complicated the situation in the area where Russian-backed Syrian government forces are also on the march.

Meanwhile, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir today said Russia’s efforts to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will not succeed in keeping him in power.

The US has also pressed Turkey to halt military strikes on Kurdish and Syrian regime targets in the northern province of Aleppo. Turkey is also weighing a joint ground assault with Saudi troops.

According to the White House, Obama also urged combined Russian-separatist forces to fulfil their Minsk obligations, especially adhering to the ceasefire and ensuring that the Special Monitoring Mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has full access to all areas of eastern Ukraine, including the international border.

“The President reiterated the importance of quickly reaching agreement on the modalities for elections in eastern Ukraine that comply with OSCE standards,” the White House said.