TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - Vladimir Putin hosted his Syrian counterpart in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Monday, ahead of a summit between Russia, Turkey and Iran and a new round of Syria peace talks in Geneva. The meeting was unannounced and the Kremlin did not make it public until Tuesday morning.
"I passed to (Putin) and all Russian people our greetings and gratitude for all of the efforts that Russia made to save our country," Assad told Russia's top brass.
Assad has only ventured outside his war-ravaged nation twice since the conflict began — both times to Russia. This week's visit to meet Putin is his second since the crisis began in March 2011.
The first was in October 2015, shortly after Russia launched its military campaign in Syria.
The meeting in Sochi, which lasted three hours, came ahead of a summit at the same place between the presidents of Iran, Russia and Turkey.
Putin had spoken with the leaders of Iran and Turkey to "assure them that Russia will work with Syrian leadership to prepare the groundwork for possible understandings" that could be reached on Wednesday to "make sure" that agreements reached will be "viable," Dmitry Peskov, Putin's spokesman, told reporters on Tuesday.
The Kremlin said Putin would phone President Donald Trump and Saudi King Salman to discuss the situation in Syria on Wednesday.
Asked whether Putin and Assad have talked about the Syrian president's future in post-war Syria, Peskov said "possible options for political settlement have been discussed."