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Obama, Putin Meet Amid Tensions

  • VOA News

(L-R, front) U.S. President Barack Obama, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping attend a plenary session during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Beijing, Nov. 11, 2014.

(L-R, front) U.S. President Barack Obama, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping attend a plenary session during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Beijing, Nov. 11, 2014.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin have met briefly on the sidelines of a conference in Beijing, covering a few of the key global issues on which their governments do not agree.

Obama and Putin flanked Chinese President Xi Jinping and exchanged comments about the room as leaders walked into the venue for Tuesday's Asia-Pacific summit.

Three meetings

But away from the main talks, the White House said U.S. and Russian leaders met three times throughout the day for a total of about 15 to 20 minutes.

U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said the topics included Iran, Syria and Ukraine, but did not provide additional details. Mr. Putin's spokesman gave a similar summary of the discussions.

The Associated Press quotes Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes as saying "the U.S. wants Russia to be a stabilizing force on issues that we care about," adding that Russia is not going to be able to do that if it is "violating the sovereignty of a country next door."

Rhodes says Mr. Obama will not be seeking a meeting with Mr. Putin while in Beijing or in Brisbane, Australia, where the two attend a Group of 20 economic summit this weekend.

The U.S. and Russia have been part of a combined effort with the other permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany to try to negotiate a deal with Iran ensuring its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes.

Syria, Ukraine

But in Syria, the United States has aided Syrian opposition fighters and declared that President Bashar al-Assad is not a legitimate leader, while Russia has sold arms to Mr. Assad's government and vetoed multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions that would sanction him.

The two countries have also been at odds over the situation in Ukraine, where the U.S. has accused Russia of aiding separatist fighters and imposed economic sanctions in response.

Obama and Putin last met face-to-face for a brief sideline encounter in June. That meeting came a day after Mr. Obama and the other leaders of G8 nations met without the Russian leader, canceling their planned summit in Russia because of the government's response to the conflict in Ukraine.

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