- Associated Press - Thursday, December 20, 2018

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin is welcoming the U.S. decision to withdraw its military from Syria.

Speaking Thursday at his annual news conference, Putin said he agrees with U.S. President Donald Trump who said Wednesday that the defeat of the Islamic State group removes the need for the U.S. military presence in the country.

He reaffirmed the long-held Russian argument that the U.S. presence in Syria was illegitimate because it hasn’t been vetted by the United Nations Security Council or approved by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government. Putin added that “if the U.S. decided to withdraw its contingent, it has done the right thing.”

SEE ALSO: Trump to pull troops from Syria: ‘We have defeated ISIS’

The Russian leader added that it remains to be seen whether the U.S. delivers on its plan, noting Washington’s repeated promises to end its 17-year presence in Afghanistan.

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