Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin came face to face at the G20 Summit in China over the weekend, and things got awkward fast.
Daily Mail reported that Obama and Putin have been having “pull-aside” meetings during the G20 summit in China, but they failed to agree on a solution to the Syrian civil war. They each support opposing sides in the bloody five-year conflict, which has left 300,000 people dead and forced millions to flee. In their final face-to-face meeting before Obama leaves office, they agreed to keep up negotiations over a cease-fire agreement.
Obama said they had a “candid, blunt, business like meeting” while a senior US official described it as a “constructive meeting.” This came as Syrian government troops, which are backed by Russia, resumed their siege of the city of Aleppo.
Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov had been trying to negotiate a deal for weeks that would curb the violence between Assad’s government forces and rebel forces backed by the US. The agreement hinged on both sides agreeing to closer militarily coordination against extremist groups operating in Syria, but Obama was skeptical that Russia would uphold their part of the deal.
State media reported that Syrian government troops had taken an area south of Aleppo, meaning the last opposition-held route into its eastern neighborhoods has been severed.
“We are back in a situation where Assad is bombing without impunity and strengthening Nusra’s position to recruit people for terrorism and that’s a dangerous dynamic,” Obama said. “We want to have productive discussions that would allow us both to focus on our common enemies like ISIS but there are gaps of trust and we haven’t yet closed the gap. We will keep working at it over the next several days. The faster we can provide relief the better off we will be and we can have a serious conversation about this involving all the parties who are involved in Syria.”
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