Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during an awarding ceremony for soldiers returning from Syria, at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, March 17, 2016. REUTERS/Alexei Nikolsky/Sputnik/Kremlin(reuters_tickers)
ST PETERSBURG, Russia (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday he agreed with U.S. proposals to incorporate parts of the opposition into the current Syrian government, saying President Bashar al-Assad accepted there was a need for a political process.
The comments advance Russia's position on Syria and follow a statement by U.N. Envoy Staffan de Mistura, who warned earlier this month there would not be another round of peace talks until officials on all sides agreed on the parameters for a political transition deal ahead of an Aug. 1 deadline.
"The U.S. proposal is absolutely acceptable. We must think about the possibilities of incorporating representatives of the opposition into the active ruling structure," Putin told the annual St Petersburg International Economic Forum.
"For example into the government. We must think what rights that government will have. But here we shouldn't go too far, we must act based on today's realities."
Putin said the most important thing for Syria was not for Assad to retake every inch of territory as he has pledged (though Putin said territorial gains were also important) but for overall faith in the authorities to be restored.
Putin said it was inevitable Syria would collapse if things continued as they were, saying that would be the worst-case scenario.
(Reporting by Christian Lowe, Alexander Winning and Katya Golubkova; Writing by Maria Kiselyova/Andrew Osborn; Editing by Jason Bush)