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Putin Says Over 6.5 Million Syrian Refugees Are Abroad, Calls to Promote Return

© Sputnik / Mikhail Voskresenskiy / Go to the mediabankA boy feeds a cow in the Harasta district, northeast of Damascus, Syria
A boy feeds a cow in the Harasta district, northeast of Damascus, Syria - Sputnik International
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Over 6.5 million Syrian refugees are currently outside the country's borders, and their return home would serve the interests of the nations hosting them, including reducing the threat from those "influenced by radicals", Russian President Vladimir Putin told his Syrian counterpart, Bashar Assad, on Monday.

"Unfortunately, over 6.5 million refugees are currently outside Syria. Most of them are employable citizens who could and should participate in the restoration of their country. Apart from that, their return serves the interests of the countries of stay, first of all, Syria's neighbours", Putin said, pointing to the significant expenses incurred by these nations and also noting that young refugees "are often influenced by radicals, join militants, and can pose a threat to the country of stay".

Russia has been supportive of the Syrian government's initiative aimed at refugee return for years, the president recalled.

Over 850,000 Syrians have already returned home from abroad, Putin said.

The Russian president also reaffirmed the country's support for an international conference on Syrian refugees and internally displaced persons, slated to be held in Damascus later this week.

"Russia fully supports this event and actively assists preparations and organisation ... The Russian delegation will be one of the biggest, it will be comprised of experts from over 30 ministries and agencies. Apart from participating in the forum, they plan [on] contacts with Syrian colleagues to discuss the most pressing issues related to bilateral cooperation", Putin said.

Russia will soon deliver over 65 tonnes of humanitarian cargo to Syria, the president announced.

The two presidents held a videoconference earlier today, discussing various topics, including resolution of the Syrian conflict.

"One has to remark about the effective work that is being done within the Astana format that we do with our partners from Iran and Turkey. We have been able to do a lot together — the hotbed of international terrorism in Syria has been eliminated, the level of violence has been lowered, peaceful life is being built, and an inclusive political process under the aegis of the United Nations is ongoing", Putin said.

Russia is still making an effort to help normalise the situation in Syria, restore its sovereignty and territorial integrity, Putin said.

Throughout Syria's long-running conflict, Russia has played an active role in providing humanitarian assistance and medical help to the people of the war-torn Middle Eastern country.

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