Russia Can Choose Assad or Legitimate Syrian Government: Obama - NBC New York
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Russia Can Choose Assad or Legitimate Syrian Government: Obama

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    Russia Can Choose Assad or Legitimate Syrian Government: Obama
    AP
    FILE - In this Monday, Nov. 16, 2015 file photo, U.S. President Barack Obama, right, talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, prior to a session of the G-20 Summit in Antalya, Turkey. The tide of global rage against the Islamic State group could force a reevaluation of what to do about President Bashar Assad’s future and puts a renewed focus on the position of his key patrons, Russia and Iran.

    President Barack Obama says Russia and Iran must decide whether they want to prop up Syrian President Bashar Assad or "save the Syrian state" by finding a Syrian government that can be legitimate.

    Obama is speaking during a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

    He says it's unimaginable that Syria's civil war can be stopped without Assad leaving power. He says Assad "cannot regain legitimacy."

    Obama says the goal of recent diplomatic efforts is to create space that could eventually lead to a "pivot" and political transition. He says a hoped-for cease-fire might not be observed by all parties but would create "pockets of calm."

    Obama's comments come amid U.S. hopes that Russia may be warming to the idea of a future Syria that doesn't include Assad.