Putin calls U.S.-Russia agreement on Syria a real step to stop bloodshed

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The agreements between Russia and the U.S. on a ceasefire in Syria are a real step toward halting the bloodshed and can be an example of action against terrorism, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with government members at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, February 10, 2016. REUTERS/Alexei Nikolsky/Sputnik/Kremlin

“I’m convinced that the joint actions agreed with the American side are able to radically transform the crisis situation in Syria,” Putin said in a special address broadcast on television and posted on the Kremlin’s website.

Putin’s comments came after the United States and Russia announced plans for a cessation of hostilities in Syria, excluding Islamic State and Nusra Front militants, that would take effect starting on Saturday.

In his statement, Putin said that he had just discussed the plan with U.S. President Barack Obama by telephone. He said Russia had initiated the phone call “but both sides, undoubtedly, have an interest in it”.

Putin said that Russian and U.S. negotiators had held several rounds of closed consultations, which had achieved “an important, definite result”.

He said it was important that Russia and the U.S. “are able to launch an effective mechanism for realization and monitoring of the ceasefire regime”.

To achieve this a “hot line” would be created and if necessary a working group would be set up for exchanging information.

“The main thing is that conditions have been created for launching a genuine political process through the wide inter-Syrian dialogue in Geneva overseen by the UN,” Putin said.

Putin contrasted the agreements with “unilateral” actions, such as those in Somalia, Iraq, Libya and Yemen, which had not had UN authorization.

He said the US-Russia agreements “can be an example of responsible actions, based on the norms of international law and the principles of the UN, against the threat of terrorism.”

Reporting by Jason Bush, editing by Richard Balmforth