14:53 GMT31 May 2020
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    ST. PETERSBURG (Sputnik) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said, after meeting Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz on Wednesday, that the EU country was open to offering humanitarian assistance to Syria.

    "Russia notes Austria's readiness to join humanitarian efforts and support the people of Syria," Putin told reporters at a press briefing in St. Petersburg.

    He stressed that Austrian involvement in humanitarian response should be coordinated with Syrian authorities in Damascus.

    "It is important that any aid should be coordinated through a channel that was agreed on with legitimate [Syrian] authorities, and cover all territories that suffered from terrorist hostilities and the civil war," Putin added.

    Putin called on the European states to join the process of Syrian refugees' return.

    "Europe is highly interested in the refugees' return [to Syria]. According to our estimates, some 150,000 people have already returned home this year. If we had provided the assistance jointly… had created conditions so that people could live normally and return home [the situation would be better]. Is not Europe interested in that?" Putin said.

    READ MORE: Putin: Skripal Not Rights Defender, But 'Traitor' and 'Scumbag' (VIDEO)

    Russian President also expressed a hope that the large-scale military action in Syria would be avoided.

    After the talks with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, Putin said that Russia was closely working together with Turkey on settling the situation in Syria, which would be impossible without coordinating such activities with Tehran and Damascus.

    "We are working jointly… I have all the reasons to believe that we will fulfill the set goals and no large-scale military action is likely to take place. There is no need in hostilities for the sake of hostilities, we need to achieve some goals. The tools that we chose to reach these goals are currently effective," Putin said.

    "I want to inform you that we are working together with our Turkish partners and we see that they take this agreement extremely seriously. They are delivering on their commitment – in the very least they are contributing – to the withdrawal of radical groups and heavy weapons," Putin also told reporters.

    Putin promised that Russian military police would continue patrolling demilitarized zones in Syria, including joint patrols with Turkish troops.

    He stressed this "would be impossible without agreements with Syrian officials or without Iran’s help."

    "We have been working together and the work, in principle, is moving ahead in the right direction," Putin said. "I have all reasons to think that we will achieve our goals."

    Russian President also urged to ensure that the process of humanitarian aid provision to Syrian civilians is not affected by politics.

    "I do not know how the united Europe will act with respect to the provision of assistance to the Syrian population but, from my point of view, this work must be de-politicized. It is unacceptable to divide the Syrian population on the basis of territory of residence," Putin said at a press conference after the talks with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.

    Earlier today, Vladimir Putin addressed the speech to the participants on the opening day of the Russian Energy Week. The Russian Energy Week in Moscow is set to be attended by over 6,000 guests from over 70 countries, with energy companies coming from different countries.


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    Syria, military, talks, humanitarian aid, Russian Energy Week, Vladimir Putin, Russia
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