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.

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Comment Sorting
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 ....

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