US President Barack Obama on Wednesday praised Russia’s role in talks to end the Syria crisis and offered the prospect of better ties if Moscow focused military strikes on the Islamic State group, rather than opposition groups.

 

Obama said Russia had been a “constructive partner in Vienna in trying to create a political transition,” referring to international talks in Austria.

 

But, he said, there were still differences over the fate of Syrian ruler Bashar al-Assad, and Moscow’s current military focus on defending him.

 

Obama also expressed hope that Russia may shift the military focus from defending Assad to attacking the Islamic State group.