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Putin says next step for Syria is nationwide ceasefire
[TOKYO] Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday that the next stage in ending Syria's bloody civil war will be getting all sides to agree to a nationwide ceasefire, as thousands of civilians and rebels poured out of Aleppo.
"The next step (after Aleppo) will be to reach agreement on a complete ceasefire across all of Syria," Mr Putin said on an official visit to Japan.
"We are actively negotiating with members of the armed opposition, with the mediation of Turkey."
He added that the parties are proposing fresh peace talks, possibly in the Kazakh capital Astana.
Mr Putin's comments came ahead of the UN Security Council meeting Friday to discuss the crisis in the Syrian city of Aleppo in response to a request by France, which is calling for international observers to be sent to monitor the situation and ensure aid deliveries.
European Union leaders also tried to pile pressure on Russia Thursday, urging the Kremlin to protect civilians, but EU President Donald Tusk however acknowledged the bloc was largely powerless.
Thousands of civilians and rebels left Aleppo on Thursday under an evacuation deal that will allow Syria's regime to take full control of the city after years of fighting.
A first evacuation attempt on Wednesday fell apart, with artillery exchanges and resumed air strikes rocking the city until the early hours of Thursday.
But the agreement, brokered by Syrian regime ally Russia and opposition supporter Turkey, was revived following fresh talks.