Obama and Putin agree to continue Syria talks
U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin had a longer than expected discussion on Monday and they could agree on a ceasefire deal in war-torn Syria, a senior U.S. administration official said.
The official says Obama and Putin met for 90 minutes on the sidelines of the Group of 20 economic summit in Hangzhou, China.
President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin have agreed to keep up negotiations over a cease-fire agreement for Syria.
Their discussion came hours after top U.S. and Russian diplomats failed to seal a deal aimed at providing access to humanitarian aid for thousands of civilians in the war-torn country.
In talks earlier on Monday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov were unable to come to terms on a ceasefire for the second time in two weeks, with U.S. officials stressing they would walk away if a near-term pact could not be reached.
Obama and Putin did not get into the finer details of a deal but made progress to clarify “the remaining gaps” and directed Kerry and Lavrov to meet as early as this week to keep working on a deal, the official told reporters.
If an agreement can be reached, we want to do so urgently because of the humanitarian situation. However, we must ensure that it is an effective agreement.
If we cannot get the type of agreement we want, we will walk away from that effort. A cessation of hostilities agreement brokered by Lavrov and Kerry in February unraveled within weeks with Washington accusing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces of violating the pact.
State Department officials have declined to elaborate on what the sticking points are preventing a deal, though the U.S. official said the remaining differences revolved around how the plan would be implemented.
Russia has insisted that it cannot agree to a deal unless opposition fighters backed by the United States and Middle East allies are separated from al-Qaeda linked militants they overlap with in some areas.
Obama and Putin also discussed the conflict in Ukraine, a crisis that Obama had earlier discussed with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande.
The White House wants to determine whether the Minsk ceasefire can be implemented before Obama leaves office in January.
Source : Reuters