Top Russian, U.S. Military Commanders Hold Talks on Syria

(Bloomberg) -- Military commanders from Russia and the U.S. held a phone conversation to discuss Syria as U.S. forces prepare to leave the Middle Eastern country.

Russia’s General Staff chief Valery Gerasimov also exchanged opinions on the war on terror and other topics during Friday’s discussion with General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Russian Defense Ministry said in an emailed statement.

President Donald Trump has ordered U.S. troops to pull out of Syria. It’s not clear how soon the approximately 2,000 soldiers will be going home.

The U.S. will withdraw forces in a deliberate and coordinated way and ensure there is no power vacuum for terrorists to exploit in Syria, according to a State Department official, who asked not to be identified. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo will visit eight countries in the Middle East, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia, over the course of one week starting Jan. 8, the State Department said Friday.

Russia and Turkey will play a crucial role in resolving the conflict in Syria, President Vladimir Putin told his counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a New Year’s message published by the Kremlin on Dec. 30.

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