Trump, Putin Release Joint Statement on Syria: 'No Military Solution to the Conflict'

At APEC summit in Vietnam, the two leaders declare their commitment to maintaining Syria's territorial integrity and to defeating ISIS

U.S. President Donald Trump and Russia's President Vladimir Putin talk during the family photo session at the APEC Summit in Danang, Vietnam November 11, 2017.
JORGE SILVA/REUTERS

Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump have agreed there can be no military solution to the Syrian civil war, and have called on all parties in the conflict to actively participiate in the Geneva peace process that are is being held the auspices of the United Nations.

The comments were made in a joint statement after brief contact between the two leaders at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Vietnam, Russian news agencies quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying on Saturday.

In the statement both leaders commited to Syria's sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, Russian news agency TASS reported. 

The joint statement declared that the two nations would convene a joint channel of communication in order to avoid dangerous incidents in the region, and the the two nations would continue to work together towards defeating international jihadist terror group Islamic State. 

U.S. President Donald Trump said later that the agreement to a political solution in Syria made on the sidelines of the summit would save many lives.

"We agreed very quickly," Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One as he flew from the APEC meeting in the resort city of Danang to Vietnam's capital Hanoi. "It's going to save tremendous numbers of lives." 

The raging conflict in Syria is now in its sixth year, has caused hundreds of thousands of deaths and wounded nearly two million, the Syrian Centre for Policy Research estimates.

"We spoke intermittently during that roundtable," Trump continued. "We seem to have a very good feeling for each other and a good relationship considering we don't know each other well." He added that he and Putin had two or three very short conversations. 

Trump said Putin had reiterated that he did not meddle in last year's U.S. presidential elections, which brought Trump to the White House. 

Trump said a good relationship with Russia was important. 

"In fact it would be a great thing ... because he could really help us in North Korea. We have a big problem with North Korea and China is helping us," Trump said. "If Russia helped us in addition to China that problem would go away a lot faster." 

Trump said Chinese President Xi Jinping was a good man who "wants to do right," but he wanted Xi to ratchet up more pressure on North Korea.