Russian's president is hosting the ruler of Qatar for talks set to focus on the Syrian crisis.

Vladimir Putin welcomed Qatar's Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani at the start of Monday's talks in the Kremlin by hailing Qatar's role in regional affairs. He voiced hope that they would be able to "search for ways of settlement of the most difficult issues."

Al-Thani emphasized a key role Russia could play in stabilizing the region, adding that Qatar wants to find a solution for problems "concerning stability of some of the countries of the region."

Neither leader mentioned Syria in their opening remarks, but the Syrian crisis was looming over the talks. Russia has backed Syrian President Bashar Assad throughout the nearly five-year conflict, while Qatar has supported the opposition.