News / Middle East

Obama, Putin Agree to Disagree on Syria

U.S. President Barack Obama (L) meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the G8 Summit at Lough Erne in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, June 17, 2013.
U.S. President Barack Obama (L) meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the G8 Summit at Lough Erne in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, June 17, 2013.
Kent Klein
U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin disagree on how they want the bloodshed in Syria to be resolved, but both say they want it resolved through negotiations.  The two leaders met Monday on the sidelines of the Group of Eight summit in Northern Ireland.

After their two-hour meeting, Presidents Obama and Putin emphasized that their fundamental positions on Syria have not changed.  Mr. Putin continues to support the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, citing stability concerns, while Mr. Obama insists that no political settlement can include President Assad.

But the U.S. and Russian leaders said proposed talks in Geneva are necessary for a resolution.  Mr. Putin said "And, of course, our thinkings do not coincide, but all of us have the intention to stop the violence in Syria, to stop the growth of victims, and to sow the situation peacefully, including by bringing the parties to the negotiation table in Geneva.  We agreed to push the parties to the negotiation table."

Mr. Obama also acknowledged the differences with his Russian counterpart on Syria, but he said they agree on the need to defuse the situation.

"We do have different perspectives on the problem, but we share an interest in reducing the violence, securing chemical weapons and ensuring that they are neither used nor are they subject to proliferation," he said.

Russian officials are skeptical about what the United States says is evidence that the Assad government is using chemical weapons on its people.

There were areas of agreement, however.  Mr. Putin said he and Mr. Obama are optimistic that a new president in Iran could lead to an easing of Tehran's conflict with other countries about its nuclear program.

"I hope that after the elections in Iran there will be new opportunities to solve the Iranian nuclear problem," he said. "And we will be trying to do that bilaterally and in the international negotiations process."

The two leaders pledged to work together to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear program.  Mr. Obama thanked Mr. Putin for Russia's cooperation in investigating April's bombing at the Boston Marathon, and he said the U.S. and Russia are poised to increase trade and investment.

There was not much personal warmth in evidence between the two presidents.  Mr. Putin characterized their meeting as a "frank exchange of opinions," while Mr. Obama called it a "very useful conversation."

Earlier in the day, the G8 leaders announced that the first round of talks toward a massive transatlantic trade deal between the U.S. and the EU will start next month in Washington.

President Obama also invited Italy's new prime minister to visit Washington.

The G8 leaders conclude their summit with several meetings on Wednesday, and Mr. Obama will meet with French President Francois Hollande before he flies to Berlin to visit German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
June 18, 2013 12:33 AM
Putin doesn't have to worry, if he tried doing what Assad has done, we the west would likely intervene in Russia as well. You can't keep killing innocent civilians in every city and town all over Syria and think you can easily get away with it. Assad is a criminal for ruthlessly bombing civilian areas without any regard for human life.

by: Gennady from: Russia, Volga Region
June 17, 2013 9:09 PM
I wonder, how can democratically elected leaders of G7 countries tolerate and shake hands with self-elected man (G7+ one) who clings to power by virtue of rigged elections and basic human rights denied to people of Russia. Long overdue is the time to return to old format of G7 and the new format of G20. So Mr Putin will be diluted. Mr. Putin supports Assad because he views the bloodbath in Syria as a model to what he is morally ready to do with people of Russia once they will try to overthrow him.
In Response

by: Anonymous
June 18, 2013 6:23 AM
president Putin has the authority power to take key political decisions independently, while president Obama is influenced by various lobbies , left and right wings , influential individuals , secret figures of policy makers in US. You can not expect him more than that in person either !
In Response

by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
June 18, 2013 1:29 AM
Yes, I agree with you that Russia should not be included in advanced or industriarised countries as long as it is dominated by Putin. It should be remained at best as a member of main countries administarting anti-humanitarian policies.

by: danR from: Canada
June 17, 2013 7:18 PM
Putin's not convincing the people who *count* with this cannibalism thing. He should stick with the premise for arming the Syrian mob: the sarin claim.

It's just press-release disinformation rubbish, same as the Cheney, Rove, Rumsfeld thing. If he sticks with that it will force the other G7 and also the media to put up or shut up. I have yet to see a single page of <i>documentation</i>. Just claims of documentation. This is no different from Bush's WMD days, and he should say so.

by: Anonymous
June 17, 2013 5:27 PM
The west has wanted to intervene for some time now, because the ex dictator Assad has been using terrorist tactics to try and make the Syrian people buckle. Assad has killed somewhere between 50,000 to 90,000 innocent civilians and that number is likely low. Putin on the other hand whines at the fact one Syrian Rebel ate the heart of a human, whom likely was a psycho / mentally ill... But Assad is sane, and premeditated the murder of these people by allowing the air force, and army to bombard civilian areas all over Syria, not only killing thousands of innocent unarmed civilians but also destroying the cities, towns, and villages as well. Millions of Syrians lost everything they own (including relatives) because of Bashar Al Assads bombardments. Most of which were done so by using Russian weaponry. 90% of Syrians killed by Assad have been killed with Russian weaponry. How can Putin cry about 1 mentally ill Rebel verses a man who has killed tens and tens of thousands of innocent people? Anyone who backs Assad is just as much of a terrorist as Assad. It is no difference than a person defending a mass murderer. If it wasn't for Putin there would be tens of thousands of less dead Syrians. He has provided Assads weaponry and denounced his removal from power shielding Assad from being held accountable long ago. It seems to me that Putin is an accomplice, he is protecting someone guilty of war crimes. For this reason alone, all the more reason for the west to intervene and show once again that human rights abuses this day and age WILL NOT be tolerated. If Putin keeps making stupid statements and making dumb decisions the people of Russia will soon stand up to him and have him removed from power. Any Russians I know, do not like Putin whatsoever.
In Response

by: Anonymous
June 18, 2013 7:47 AM
Look Man ! you are absolutely wrong with your opinion ! I f you go to Russians and ask for their view points about Putin you will understand that absolute majority of Russian people like him ! however make sure that I am not defending his policy in Syria ! The failure is with the Westerners + Saudies + Qataries ....

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs