October 26, 2016

‘Obama, Putin reach consensus on Syria’

US President Barack Obama (left) talks to Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) during a break of the G20 summit working session in Antalya, Turkey, on Sunday. (EPA photo)

US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin have reached consensus at the G20 summit in Turkey on the first steps to establish peace in Syria, following the terror attacks in Paris.

Obama and Putin met for about half an hour over a coffee table on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in the Turkish resort of Antalya on Sunday, two days after bombers and gunmen launched coordinated attacks in and around the French capital, killing at least 129 people and injuring 352 others.

The Daesh (ISIL) terrorists, who were initially trained by the CIA in Jordan in 2012 to destabilize the Syrian government, have claimed responsibility for the deadly attacks in France.

“The conversation [between Obama and Putin] lasted approximately 35 minutes and centered around ongoing efforts to resolve the conflict in Syria, an imperative made all the more urgent by the horrifying terrorist attacks in Paris,” a US official said.

The unnamed White House official claimed Obama and Putin agreed on the need for UN talks, a ceasefire and “a Syrian-led and Syrian-owned political transition” in the Arab country.

The official went on to say that Obama and Putin reached an agreement that the United Nations would mediate talks between the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Western-backed opposition groups after a ceasefire.

Meanwhile, a top Kremlin official said on Sunday that differences remain between Russia and the United States over how to fight the Takfiri group operating in Syria and Iraq.

Russian presidential aide and foreign policy advisor Yuri Ushakov told reporters on the sidelines of the G20 summit that the two powers still remain divided on what tactics to use in combating the Daesh terrorists.

The Sunday meeting between Obama and Putin was the first since Russia began an air campaign in September against ISIL terrorists wreaking havoc in Syria. Since then, Moscow has carried out scores of airstrikes, killing hundreds of terrorists.

US officials said Russia’s moves in Syria posed a direct challenge to the Obama administration’s foreign policy on the Middle East. And Moscow’s commitment to the Syrian government runs counter to current US policy, which still calls for the ouster of Assad.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) greets his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad upon his arrival at the Kremlin in Moscow on October 21, 2015. (AFP photo)

Relations between the United States and Russia have been at their lowest point since the end of the Cold War in 1991, largely due to the crisis in Ukraine and Russia’s successful air campaign against in Syria.

Putin and Obama were shown on Sunday leaning in and gesturing sharply as they made their points in the images captured by Turkish media outlets as the two leaders held intense talks on resolving the years-long crisis in Syria that has claimed the lives of more than 250,000 people and displaced millions of others.

The United States and its regional allies, including Turkey and Saudi Arabia, have been backing militants fighting against the Syrian government and people.

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