Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold talks later Wednesday with Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, the Kremlin announced Tuesday.

“Current issues related to the development of Russian-Syrian cooperation in the political, economic, commercial and humanitarian spheres will be discussed, as well as the prospects for resolving the situation in Syria and around the country,” according to the press release of the Russian presidency .

Mr Assad arrived in Moscow last night “for an official visit during which he will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin”, a press release from the Syrian presidency said.

Mr Assad, “accompanied by a large ministerial delegation”, was received by Mikhail Bogdanov, President Putin’s special envoy and deputy foreign minister, according to the same source.

The Syrian president’s previous official visit to Moscow was in September 2021. And on that occasion, he held talks with Mr. Putin.

Syria’s Al-Watan newspaper, citing Russia’s Vendamasti, reported Tuesday that the two presidents are expected to discuss efforts to “normalize (relations) between Damascus and Ankara,” in which Russia is playing a mediating role.

In December 2022, there was a tripartite meeting of the defense ministers of Syria, Turkey and Russia. It was the first since 2011.

Relations have been severed since the outbreak of war in Syria in 2011, as Turkey sided with rebel groups fighting against Damascus.

Russia, Syria’s main ally, has for its part since 2015 provided crucial military support to Mr Assad’s armed forces, turning the tide of the armed conflict.

The pro-government Al-Watan also said that “the current developments concerning Syrian-Arab relations” will be discussed at the meeting.

Mr Assad has remained isolated internationally since 2011, when a bloody crackdown on mass protests triggered the outbreak of war. But after the devastating earthquake on February 6, which killed tens of thousands of people in Turkey and Syria, Arab countries stepped up contacts and sent humanitarian aid to Damascus, which may take advantage of the tragedy to break out of diplomatic isolation. of, according to Western analysts.