Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, shakes hands with Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman in Moscow's Kremlin, Russia, Tuesday, May 30, 2017. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin, pool)
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Right now, American power in the region is perceptibly in retreat – testimony to the success of Russia's military intervention in Syria, which shored up President Bashar Assad after years of U.S. insistence that he must go.It was bluntly expressed last month by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who spent years urging American action against Assad.Two years ago, tensions between Putin and Erdogan had threatened to boil over, after the Turkish military shot down a Russian jet on the Syrian border.Meanwhile the Saudis, who had financed rebels fighting against Assad, are cooperating with Russia in coaxing the opposition to unite for peace talks, which will likely cement the Syrian leader in power.The Saudis and other Arab Gulf powers are urging Russia to reduce Iran's role in Syria, where Hezbollah and other Shiite fighters supported by Tehran have provided shock troops for Assad's offensive.Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has visited Russia four times in the past 18 months, has also found it hard to sway the Russian leader.Instead, Russia offered a 5-kilometer exclusion zone, the person said.
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