Washington- U.S. President Barack Obama concluded his meetings during the G20 summit on Monday, pointing out that his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin was “candid, blunt and businesslike despite some disagreements.”
However, Putin said that an agreement with the U.S. on finding a way to significantly reduce the death toll in Syria could be reached in the next few days.
A senior U.S. administration official said: “Obama and Putin spent about 90 minutes in a “constructive” meeting about getting humanitarian aid into the country, reducing violence, and cooperating on combating militant groups.”
Speaking in China, Obama said: “We had some productive talks about what a cessation of hostilities would look like for Russia and the U.S. to focus on our common enemies,” he said.
“Yet, given the gap of trust that exists, that is a tough negotiation and we have not closed the gap yet.”
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.
“We’ll see in coming days whether on Syria we can reach a near-term agreement. If we cannot get the type of agreement we want, we will walk away from that effort,” the White House official added.
A cessation of hostilities agreement brokered by Lavrov and Kerry in February unraveled within weeks, with Washington accusing head of Syrian regime Bashar al-Assad’s forces of violating the pact.
State Department officials have declined to elaborate on what sticking points are preventing a deal, though the U.S. official said the remaining differences revolved around how the plan would be implemented.