Putin Says He can Work with Obama Despite Trading Barbs on Syria and ISIS
Russian President Vladimir Putin emerged from a rare face-to-face meeting with Barack Obama Monday night, saying Russia and the U.S. could find a way to work together on Syria, despite deep differences over the country’s leadership.
The U.S.-Russian tête-à-tête lasted 94 minutes, more than half an hour longer than originally planned, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly where the two leaders publically traded barbs only hours before, particularly over the future of Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad.
The Russian leader told journalists shortly after the meeting that, despite their differences, he and Obama had found common ground and that the conversation was “very constructive, businesslike and very frank,” reports the Guardian.
While Obama, among various other world leaders, was adamant that the ouster of Assad must be a part of any political solution, Putin rejected the idea.
“I respect my colleagues, the U.S. president and the French president, but I don’t think they are Syrian citizens, so I don’t think they should be deciding on who should lead Syria,” Putin said.
U.S., Russia Agree Syria Must be United and Secular: Kerry
The United States and Russia agree on “some fundamental principles” for Syria, the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday, adding that he plans to meet again with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday, according to Reuters.
“There was agreement that Syria should be a unified country, united, that it needs to be secular, that ISIL (Islamic State) needs to be taken on, and that there needs to be a managed transition,” Kerry told MSNBC, adding that differences remained on what the outcome of such a transition would be.
When asked about whether there was an opportunity to use Russia and Iran’s influence in Syria to halt Assad’s use of barrel bombs on Syrians, he said: “Absolutely.”
Qatar says Putin’s Syria Plan Ignores Root Cause of Crisis
Qatar’s foreign minister said on Monday there was general international agreement with Russia on its call to fight ISIS in Syria, but warned the accord overlooks the root cause of Syrian crisis– President Assad.
In an interview with Reuters, Khaled al-Attiyah also said it was time for Gulf Arab states and Iran to hold a “serious dialogue” in attempt to normalize relations.
“Nobody can reject Mr. Putin’s call for an alliance against terrorism, but … we need to treat the cause,” he said. “We believe strongly that the Syrian regime, namely Bashar al-Assad, is the real cause.”
Clinton Critiques Obama’s Syria Policy
Hillary Clinton critiqued the Obama administration’s dealings with the Syria crisis, characterizing the U.S.’s program to train Syrian rebels – recently revealed to have produced just four to five active rebels thus far – as a “failure.”
Speaking to Chuck Todd on the premiere of his show MTP Daily on Monday, Clinton said that during her stint as secretary of state, she had argued for an enlarged training program, but was rejected by the White House.
Clinton said that if the White House had acted at the time of her request, when protests against Assad were made up of businessmen, students and professionals, “we could’ve made a difference.”
“Well, we’ve got to deal with where we are right now. It’s obvious now a different set of circumstances. And what the Pentagon has been doing hasn’t worked.”
Top Image: Russian President Vladimir Putin holds up a glass during a toast at a luncheon hosted by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Monday at United Nations headquarters. (Andrew Harnik/AP Photo)
The Washington Post: Read Putin’s U.N. General Assembly Speech