Putin, Trump speak by phone, discuss Syria, N. Korea – Kremlin

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart, Donald Trump, held a phone call in which they have agreed to cooperate on promoting diplomatic progress in dealing with tensions on the Korean peninsula and in Syria, according to the Kremlin.

Vladimir Putin has called for restraint and decreasing of the level of tensions” on the Korean peninsula, the statement said. “It has been agreed to work jointly on a diplomatic solution that will settle the crisis.

Putin and Trump have spoken about coordinating Russia’s and US efforts aimed against terrorism in Syria, the statement adds.

Putin and Trump have decided to “activate the dialogue between the heads of the foreign ministries of both countries who will seek variants to secure the ceasefire regime, stabilize it and control it,” the statement says.

“The goal is to create the background that would help launch a real peace process in Syria. This means that Russia’s foreign minister and the US secretary of state would inform their leaders about progress in this regard."

The call between the two presidents came a day before a new round of talks on Syria in Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana.

This is the first time that Trump and Putin have talked to each other since the US missile strike on a Syrian airfield that set back US-Russia diplomatic relations.

US missiles targeted Shayrat Airbase located in the Syrian province of Homs on April 6 in retaliation for an assault on a rebel-held town in north-western Idlib province on April, 4, that was allegedly carried out by Syrian government forces with the use of chemical weapons. The US attack was carried out before any expert investigations were launched.

After the airstrikes on the airfield, Trump, who was expected to depart from the policies of Obama’s administration and take a milder stance toward Russia, declared that relations between the two countries “may be at an all-time low.”

At the same time, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley condemned Moscow for supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad.

North Korea has drawn an angry response from its regional neighbors and the US after several test firings of ballistic missiles hailed by the state media as major military achievements.

Tensions between the two nations increased after President Trump said he would seek to stop North Korea from developing a nuclear weapon and missile tests. As part of this plan, the US anti-missile THAAD system was stationed in South Korea aimed at deterring its northern neighbor. The system has been announced “operational” just recently.

Moscow has condemned the move, urging Washington and Seoul to reconsider this decision, saying that THAAD anti-missile system would serve as a “destabilizing factor” in the region.