US President Barack Obama apparently taunted Russia by referring to the failed Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Russian President Vladimir Putin might not like the outcome of his Syria operation, Obama said at a press conference in Paris on Tuesday.

"I think Mr Putin understands that ... with Afghanistan fresh in the memory, for him to simply get bogged down in an inconclusive and paralysing civil conflict is not the outcome that he's looking for," Obama said.

"I think it is possible over the next several months that we both see a shift in calculation in the Russians and a recognition that it's time to bring the civil war in Syria to a close."

The US president, however, said he agreed with Putin that Syria needed a political settlement. However, the main disagreement between Russia and the United States is about the future of Syria President Bashar al-Assad.

While Obama insists that Assad must lose power to make it possible for Syria to reach a political resolution, Russia stands by the Syrian president and insists that the Syrian people should choose their future, not Western leaders.

“It’s been my estimation for five years now that that’s [Assad staying at the helm] not possible regardless of how you feel about Mr Assad and I consider somebody who kills hundreds of thousands of his own people illegitimate,” Obama said.

“Regardless of the moral equation, as a practical matter, it is impossible for Mr Assad to bring the country together.”

Obama said it would, however, be possible to preserve the Syria state and have an inclusive government in which the interests of various groups inside the country are represented.

The US president acknowledged that some of the moderate oppositions in Syria did not have a lot in common with their Western counterparts. Nevertheless, they represent significant factions in the country, he added.

Video courtesy: YouTube/Washington Post

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