Obama & Putin talk Syria, Ukraine at APEC summit

Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama discussed the stalling peace process in Ukraine and continuing conflict in Syria during a brief meeting on the margins of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Peru.

UPDATE: Putin talks Trump, Brexit, TTIP at APEC briefing in Lima

“The presidents expressed disappointment that no progress has been achieved on Ukraine,” said the Russian President’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov. “At the same time, it was underlined that the two remaining months [of Obama’s term] should be used for finding a resolution of the Syrian conflict. To this end, it was agreed that [Russia’s foreign minister] Sergey Lavrov and [US Secretary of State] John Kerry should continue communicating.”

The White House confirmed the details of the public meeting, which ended with a handshake.

The sidelines chat had not been officially scheduled, but Peskov earlier predicted that the leaders of the two countries, both of which are members of APEC, could speak during the two-day summit.

Back in September, Putin and Obama held what the US President described as a “candid, blunt and businesslike” 90-minute meeting at the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, China, which focused primarily on finding a resolution to the Syrian crisis, on which they hold widely divergent views.

Earlier this week, Obama urged the incoming Donald Trump administration to “stand up” to Russia, and be “realistic in recognizing there are some significant differences in how Russia views the world and how we view the world.” He insisted that Washington should avoid “realpolitik” and, and must not strike “deals” with Moscow, if it “violates international norms” – particularly on Syria, and cyber warfare.

“I don’t expect that the President-elect will follow exactly our approach,” Obama said.

Meanwhile, Putin has expressed hope that following the change of leadership, the two countries can “work on their relationship” to escape the current “crisis state.” Putin and Trump have already spoken on the phone.

Representatives of 21 Pacific Rim states, who have arrived in the Peruvian capital Lima for the annual APEC summit, are holding two lengthy sessions through Sunday. One is dedicated to trade and investment, and the other to tackling regional issues, including climate change, food security and water access.