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Russia, U.S. 'Officials' Deny Deal Over Assad Against Sidelining Iran In Syria

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov attend a joint news conference after their talks in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi, May 14, 2019. File photo

A Russian official has denied a deal between Moscow and Washington over putting an end to Iran's presence in Syria in return for the recognition of Bashar Assad's regime by the United States, says Russian news agency Interfax.

Meanwhile, a U.S. official speaking to the UAE newspaper the National on Monday June 3, ruled out a June 2 report by London-based Asharq al-Awsat daily which said the United States is prepared to recognize the legitimacy of Bashar al-Assad's government in Syria.

The Nation also quoted the U.S. official as having said that the U.S. position about Bashar Assad has not changed.

None of the reports have named any U.S. officials.

The Asharq al-Awsat report claimed that the United States was prepared to recognize Assad as Syria's legitimate President if Russia stop Iran's influence in Syria.

The report added that delegations from Israel, U.S. and Russia are slated to secretly meet later in June to discuss the matter.

However, Russian news agency Interfax refuted the report on June 3, quoting Federation Council Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Konstantin Kosachyov as having said that the presence of Iran or any other country in Syria can hardly be negotiated between Russia and the United States, adding that foreign military presence in Syria is about countering ISIL and other terrorist threats." Kosachyov wrote on Facebook.

There is no official confirmation of the initiative, but "it is quite possible that Washington is pondering this scenario, and that the media leak aims to provoke Russia's reaction for the purpose of analysis," Interfax quoted Kosachyov as saying.