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Syria's Assad views Trump as 'promising' on Islamic State
February 7, 2017 / 7:00 AM / 7 months ago

Syria's Assad views Trump as 'promising' on Islamic State

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad speaks to a group of Belgian reporters in this handout picture provided by SANA on February 7, 2017, Syria. SANA/Handout via REUTERS

AMMAN (Reuters) - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said U.S. President Donald Trump prioritizing the fight against jihadists led by Islamic State was promising although it was too early to expect any practical steps, state news agency SANA reported on Tuesday.

The Kremlin, Assad’s most powerful ally, said Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed setting up “genuine coordination” in the fight against Islamic State and “other terrorist groups” in Syria during a phone call last month.

Assad was quoted by SANA as telling a group of Belgian reporters that Trump’s position was promising. “I believe this is promising but we have to wait and it’s too early to expect anything practical,” he said. Assad was also quoted as saying that U.S-Russian cooperation in stepping up the fight against the militants would have positive repercussions.

Trump has previously indicated he might cut U.S. support for Syrian rebels that have been fighting Assad, and that he could cooperate with Russia in the fight against Islamic State in Syria.

Trump has made defeating Islamic State a core goal of his presidency and signed an executive order asking the Pentagon, the joint chiefs of staff and other agencies to submit a preliminary plan on how to proceed within 30 days.

(This story has been refiled to remove reference to Trump indicating he might cooperate with Syria, replaces with reference to Trump indicating he could cooperate with Russia in Syria.)

Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi in Amman and Ahmed Tolba in Cairo; Editing by Louise Ireland

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