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Putin says new elections key to ending Syrian crisis

Speaking to Russia’s top economic forum, Putin said that creating a new government that will have the trust of most of Syria’s population is key to ending the five-year conflict.

He said that this goal can only be achieved through drafting a new constitution and holding new elections.

Putin said that Syrian President Bashar Assad, who visited Moscow last year, has pledged to help achieve that.

“There is nothing more democratic than elections,” Putin said.The Russian leader said he expects the US to work with its allies in the region to encourage the Syrian opposition to engage in a constructive dialogue with the government.

“It’s necessary to think about incorporating some opposition representatives in the existing government structures,” he said.

Earlier on Friday, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov strongly warned Washington against striking Assad’s forces, saying it would fuel turmoil across the entire region.

An attempt to topple Assad’s government “wouldn’t help a successful fight against terrorism and could plunge the region into total chaos,” Peskov said.

He made the statement while asked to comment about an internal document in which dozens of US State Department employees called for military action against Assad’s forces.

President Barack Obama called for regime change in Syria early on in the five-year conflict, but so far has only authorized strikes against the Islamic State group and other US-designated terror groups in Syria. 
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