MOSCOW, March 16 (AFP) - Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday (Mar 15) was hosting Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad for talks as the Kremlin seeks to mend ties between Damascus and Türkiye's Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The meeting follows the surprise announcement last week of a Chinese-brokered restoration of diplomatic ties between the Middle East's major rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Ties between Erdogan and Assad were severed after the outbreak of fighting in Syria and successful Kremlin mediation would give Putin diplomatic clout with Russia isolated internationally over the Ukraine conflict.
"We are in constant contact and our relations are developing," the Russian leader told Assad at the televised start of their meeting, hailing "significant results in the fight against international terrorism".
Assad, who arrived in Moscow on Tuesday, voiced support for Moscow's military campaign in Ukraine and said the visit would mark "a new facet" in his country's ties with Moscow.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov earlier told reporters the talks would focus on bilateral ties but said "Türkiye-Syria relations will certainly be touched upon in one way or another".
Syria's civil war in 2011 strained relations between Damascus and Ankara, which has long supported rebel groups opposed to Assad.
Türkiye severed diplomatic ties with Syria soon after the war began.
Analysts say Moscow now wants to bridge the divide between the two countries that see a common "enemy" in Kurdish groups in northern Syria, described as "terrorists" by Ankara and backed by Washington.