Pullout of Iranian troops from Syria decision for Tehran and Damascus, Tehran and Washington - Putin
SOCHI. Oct 18 (Interfax) - A decision on the full withdrawal of Iranian forces from Syria must be made by Tehran and Damascus and by Tehran and Washington, and Russia stands ready to join in the discussion, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday.
"It's not exactly our problem to try to persuade Iran to leave Syrian territory. Both Syria and Iran are sovereign states, and they should be building relations between themselves," Putin said at a Valdai Club meeting in Sochi.
Russia has "serious and deep relations" with both Iran and Syria, he said.
The full withdrawal of Iranian forces from Syria is "a separate issue," Putin said. "It must be decided on in dialogue between Iran and Syria and between Iran and the U.S., and we are also willing to participate in this discussion," Putin said.
"For Syria to be able to decline services of its allies - and Iran is certainly one of them - there should be conditions for the safe development of Syria's statehood," Putin said.
Those who want the Iranian forces to leave Syrian territory should offer guarantees of non-interference in Syria's internal affairs, namely, they should "stop financing terrorists, stop using them for their political purposes, in fighting the legitimate Syrian regime, and so on," Putin said.