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

    US-Russia Tensions Complicate Syria War

    With a shared enemy and opposing allies, Russia and the US are working to avoid confrontation

    Video Re-opening Old Wounds in Beirut's Bullet-riddled Yellow House

    Built in neo-Ottoman style in 1920s, it is set to be re-opened in Sept. as ‘memory museum’ - bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity

    Cambodian-Americans Lobby for Human Rights Resolution

    Resolution condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, urges Cambodian government to end human rights violations, calls for respect of press freedom

    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.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora