Russia has no plans "right now" to deploy combat troops in Syria, President Vladimir Putin has said while addressing US concerns approximately a Russian military build-up.
In a US TV interview recorded ahead of talks with US President Barack Obama , MrÂ Putin said the aim of Russia's military presence in Syria was to support the government of President Bashar al Assad against terrorist groups.
"Russia will not take part in any field operations on the territory of Syria or in other states; at least, we do not plan it for now," he said in a transcript of the interview with CBS.
Mr Obama & MrÂ Putin are scheduled to talk today after Mr Putin addresses the United Nations, although White House & Kremlin officials have disagreed on what the two leaders will discuss.
Russia has stepped up its military involvement in Syria in recent weeks, with US officials accusing Moscow of sending combat aircraft, tanks & other equipment to assist the Syrian army.
The sudden military build-up in support of MrÂ Assad & a refugee crisis that has spilled over from the region into Europe have lent urgency to attempts to resolve the Syria conflict.
US-Russian relations have slumped to a post-Cold War low over the Ukraine crisis, although the two sides shares concerns approximately the threat posed by Islamic State while disagreeing on the approach.
Moscow says Damascus should be included in international efforts to fight IS, a demand the US & other Western powers reject.
"There is no other way to settle the Syrian conflict other than by strengthening the existing legitimate government agencies, support them in their fight against terrorism," Mr Putin said.
"There are more than 2,000 militants in Syria from the former Soviet Union," he added. "Instead of waiting for them to return back home we should assist President al Assad fight them there, in Syria."
Russian Foreign Minister SergeiÂ Lavrov & US Secretary of State John Kerry met on Sunday to prepare the ground for the presidents' meeting.
"We are just at the beginning of trying to understand what the Russians intentions are in Syria, in Iraq & try to see if there are mutually beneficial ways forward here," a senior US official said on condition of anonymity.
"We have a long way to go in that conversation."
Source: “Sky News”