On August 16, a senior U.S. official told the Reuters news agency that U.S. President Donald Trump and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin agreed in principle, during the Helsinki summit, that Iranian forces should withdraw from Syria. However, Russia saw that as a “tough task,” according to the official.
The official also revealed that Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton will discuss Iran’s role in Syria, among others issues, in talks with his Russian counterpart Nikolai Patrushev in Geneva next week.
Following Bolton’s visit to Russia in July, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment on the claims that Bolton had asked Putin to force Iran to withdraw its forces from Syria.
During the last few months, several Russian officials stressed that all foreign forces should withdraw from Syria. On May 18, Putin’s special envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentiev said that all “foreign forces” should withdraw from the war torn country after the defeat of ISIS, including Iran and Hezbollah.
The US has increased its economic, military and political pressure on Iran since the beginning of this year. One of the US goals is to push Iran to withdraw its forces from Syria. However, local observers believe that it is impossible to achieve this goal without an agreement with the Damascus government. The Russian-US talks likely go in the framework of Washington’s push in this direction.