Russian President Vladimir Putin has told his Syrian counterpart Assad Bashar Assad that the military operations in Syria were wrapping up and that the time was ripe to look for a political solution.
According to media reports, the meeting between the Russian and Syrian presidents took place on Monday in Sochi, where Putin has a residence. Details were not released until Tuesday morning.
Putin met Assad publically for first time in two years and praised their 'joint work in fighting terrorism'.
The two presidents agreed the focus in the Syrian conflict was switching from military operations to the search for a political solution, the Guardian reported.
Putin discussed the political settlement in Syria with Assad, and said he believed it should be under the aegis of the UN, adding that he hoped the international body would take an active part in the process and its final stage, media reported.
Quoting comments released by the Kremlin, the Guardian reported Putin as saying he would follow up his meeting with Assad with telephone calls to United States President Donald Trump and Middle Eastern leaders including the emir of Qatar.
"We still have a long way to go before we achieve a complete victory over terrorists. But as far as our joint work in fighting terrorism on the territory of Syria is concerned, this military operation is indeed wrapping up. I think that now the most important thing, of course, is to move on the political questions, and I note with satisfaction your readiness to work with all those who want peace and a solution [to the conflict]," Putin said.
Syria's Assad said Damascus was interested in the progress of the political solution to the crisis and that the current situation was positive in that respect, Tolo News reported.
Russia launched its counter-terrorism operation in Syria at the request of Damascus in September 2015. The Russian Air Force has been assisting the Syrian Army in its fight against terrorists for about two years.
In March 2016, Putin ordered a partial withdrawal and said that the primary objective of the operation was achieved. The remaining aircraft, however, continued to assist the Syrian Army in its fight against extremists.
In November, the Russian Defence Ministry said Daesh-controlled areas in Syria had shrunk to less than 5 per cent of the country.