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Russian President Vladimir Putin has called for a regional “co-ordinating structure” against Daesh (ISIS). He will meet US President Barack Obama later today

 Russian President Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin

Mr Putin reiterated his support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who Western countries and the Syrian opposition have said must go, BBC reported. The crisis is expected to be high on the agenda as world leaders gather at the UN in New York.

Mr Putin will hold rare talks with US President Barack Obama to discuss the issue later on Monday.

Russia and the US disagree sharply on Syria. While Russia has backed the Syrian government, and provided it with arms, the US wants to see the removal of President Assad. Military experts suspect the Russian move is to influence the post-Assad scenario in the Middle East. The ground realities are now similar to that of Serbia under the NATO attack.

Relations between Russia and the West have been strained over Moscow’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula last year and support for separatist rebels.

In a separate development, UK Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to soften his stance against Mr Assad in a speech this week.

He is due to tell the annual meeting of the UN General Assembly that Mr Assad could remain temporarily in power  at the head of a transitional government.

Mr Cameron – along with Mr Obama and French President Francois Hollande – has previously demanded that Mr Assad be removed from power as a condition of any peace deal, a position consistently rejected by Mr Putin.

Speaking as he arrived in New York on Sunday, Mr Cameron said: “[Bashar al-] Assad can’t be part of Syria’s future. He has butchered his own people. He has helped create this conflict and this migration crisis. He is one of the great recruiting sergeants for Isil [IS].”

Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani – a key regional ally of President Assad – said the government in Damascus “can’t be weakened” if IS militants are to be defeated.

He was speaking on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York.

European leaders are intensifying calls for a diplomatic push in Syria in the wake of a massive influx of refugees heading for Europe

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