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Obama says Russia may finally come around on Assad's future

Published:Wednesday | December 2, 2015 | 12:00 AM
US President Barack Obama

PARIS (AP):

UNITED STATES (US) President Barack Obama expressed optimism yesterday that Russia will ultimately come around on the need for Syrian President Bashar Assad to leave power to end his country's long civil war, but warned the turnaround would not come overnight.

Discussing the Syrian crisis with world leaders in Paris, Obama also urged Turkey and Russia to set aside recent tensions that have undermined his efforts to strengthen the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State (IS) group. Instead, he asked the two countries to focus on IS as a common enemy and on reaching a political solution for Syria.

Obama's remarks on the sidelines of global climate talks came as the US continues to press Russia to focus its airstrikes in Syria against IS, rather than on US-backed rebel groups fighting Assad. Obama said it was possible over the coming months that Russia would undergo a "shift in calculations" and back away from its support for Assad.