Merkel-Putin talks in Sochi very important

The Kremlin said there were 'detailed discussions' between Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad

Putin noted at the Sochi meeting that Russian warships near Syria will be armed with the advanced Kalibr cruise missile, a supersonic weapon that can easily evade ship-based missile defense systems.

"Stability is improving, and all that opens the doors to the political process, which we started a while ago", Assad told Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to a transcript of the May 17 meeting released by the Kremlin.

Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Assad informed the Russian leader of his decision to "send a delegation to the U.N." to discuss overhauling the country's constitution.

"The next task, of course, is the economic recovery and humanitarian aid for those people in a hard situation", Putin added.

Putin said the mutual goal is the rebuilding of the Syrian economy and providing humanitarian help, noting that his administration is in contact with all concerned sides for the political "complicated process", including the UN.

Wall Street drops on concerns over US-China trade woes, rising inflation
Stocks are opening moderately higher on Wall Street, led by gains in technology, health care and energy companies. Chip maker Nvidia fell 3.8 percent; drug maker Celgene slid 3.9 percent.

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad stands next to his wife Asma, as he addresses injured soldiers and their mothers during a celebration marking Syrian Mother's Day in Damascus, March 21, 2016. "But with you and other partners and friends, we will continue to make strong progress in the peace process", Assad was quoted as saying in the statement.

Sources said there could be more such informal summits between Modi and other world leaders in the coming months as India eyes to play an important role in global power dynamics.

Russian television broadcast short clips from the two men's discussion.

But rebel factions still control large parts of northwestern and southwestern Syria, while a Kurdish-led alliance backed by the United States holds most of the northeast.

Putin and Assad met on the eve of a meeting in Sochi between Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the first face-to-face talk of the year between the veteran leaders.

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