The media went crazy this week when Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin came face to face at the G20 Summit in China over the weekend.
Obama and Putin were reported to have “pull-aside” meetings during the summit, though they failed to agree on a solution to the Syrian civil war. The leaders support opposing sides in the five-year conflict, which has left 300,000 people dead and forced millions more to flee.
In their final face-to-face meeting, they agreed to keep up negotiations over a cease-fire agreement.
Obama told reporters they had a “candid, blunt, business-like meeting.” This came at a crucial time, when Syrian government troops resumed their siege of the city of Aleppo.
Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavroy have been attempting to negotiate a deal for weeks, in an effort to curb the violence between Assad’s government forces and revel forces being backed by the United States. But the agreement was contingent on both sides agreeing to closer military coordination against extremist groups in Syria. Obama was publicly skeptical that Russia would uphold their part of the deal.
“We are back in a situation where Assad is bombing without impunity and strengthening Nusra’s position to recruit people for terrorism and that’s a dangerous dynamic,” Obama said. “We want to have productive discussions that would allow us both to focus on our common enemies like ISIS but there are gaps of trust and we haven’t yet closed the gap. We will keep working at it over the next several days. The faster we can provide relief the better off we will be and we can have a serious conversation about this involving all the parties who are involved in Syria.”