Russia Praises Resignation of Saudi-backed Syrian Opposition Leader

'The retreat of radically minded opposition figures from playing the main role will make it possible to unite this motley opposition - internal and external,' said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

In this Monday, Nov. 20, 2017, photo, Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, shakes hands with Syrian President Bashar Assad in the Bocharov Ruchei residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia
Mikhail Klimentyev, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

Moscow believes that resignation of Syrian opposition figures such as Riyad Hijab will help unite Syria's internal and external opposition on a more "constructive platform", Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday.

Hijab, the head of the Syrian opposition's High Negotiations Committee (HNC) resigned on Monday, nearly two years after he was picked to chair the Saudi-backed umbrella group that brings together the armed and political opposition to President Bashar al-Assad.

"The retreat of radically minded opposition figures from playing the main role will make it possible to unite this motley opposition - internal and external - on a more reasonable, realistic and constructive platform," Russia's Rossiya 24 state television showed Lavrov saying at a news briefing.

"We will support the efforts made by Saudi Arabia in this respect."

Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold a telephone conversation with the king of Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to inform him about his meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the Kremlin said.

"Today there will be Putin's telephone conversation with the king of Saudi Arabia, and one can certainly expect that Putin will inform his Saudi counterpart about yesterday's meeting," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a conference call with reporters.

Putin hosted Assad in his Black Sea residence in Sochi on Monday to talk about the need to move from military operations to the search for a political solution to Syria's conflict, the Kremlin said on Tuesday.