U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry emerged from talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday and announced a new stance on the future of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad: He can stay—at least, for now.

“The United States and our partners are not seeking so-called regime change,” Kerry told reporters in Moscow after the meeting.

The statement represented a distinct turnaround from the Obama administration’s previous position that Assad should step—or be forced—aside while the international community proceeded with the bombing of his country.

Russia has maintained that Assad must be included in international negotiations, and that the matter of his departure was one the Syrian people should decide.

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