Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump, in a joint statement on Syria, agreed to continue joint efforts on fighting Islamic State until it is defeated, the Kremlin said on Saturday.
According to Fox News, they issued the statement after a brief meeting at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.
Via Christian News Alert:
In the statement, the two leaders stated that there is no military solution to the conflict. Both parties also stated that they were committed to Damascus’ sovereignty.
Originally, it was expected that the two leaders would speak on Friday, however, they had their conversation on Saturday as they walked to a “family photograph” at the conference. It was the first time Putin and Trump had met since the G20 conference earlier this year.
The relationship between the United States and Russia has been strained since Congress passed a law imposing more aggressive sanctions against the Kremlin for their meddling in the 2016 election. President Trump reluctantly signed the bill into law. In response, Russia expelled half of the United States’ diplomatic staff from the US embassy in Moscow.
In the days leading up to the meeting, there was speculation about the subjects the two leaders would discuss. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters in China that there wasn’t a reason to have a formal meeting between Trump and Putin if they could not take more steps towards resolving issues like Syria and the Ukraine.
“The view has been if the two leaders are going to meet, is there something sufficiently substantive to talk about that would warrant a formal meeting,” Tillerson said.
On Thursday, it was reported that the United States and Russia were close to finalizing an agreement regarding the Syrian civil war after ISIS is defeated. The agreement in discussion contains three components, confliction between U.S. and Russian military, decreasing violence in the region, and restarting peace talks led by the United Nations.
According to The New York Times, Syria was not the only topic at hand during the conversation. President Trump again asked Putin whether or not the Kremlin attempted to meddle in the 2016 election. This has been a serious point of contention ever since Trump won the presidency.
President Trump told reporters that Putin denied the allegations. “He said he didn’t meddle — I asked him again,” Trump said. “You can only ask so many times. I just asked him again. He said he absolutely did not meddle in our election. He did not do what they are saying he did.”
The president did not directly state whether or not he believes Putin’s claims. However, he did state that the issue is harming relations between the United States and the Kremlin. “Every time he sees me he says, ‘I didn’t do that,’ and I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it,” he said. “I think he is very insulted by it, which is not a good thing for our country.”
It appears that Trump wishes to put the 2016 election interference behind him. To people on the left, it might appear that Trump’s desire to move past the issue is because he was colluding with the Russian government to swing the results of the election.
Since nobody has been able to find evidence proving that the Trump campaign worked with the Kremlin, it’s more likely that Trump wants to have a more productive relationship with Russia — especially when it comes to Syria and the North Korea issue.
It was reported on Thursday that Washington and Moscow were nearing an agreement on Syria for how they hope to resolve the Arab country’s civil war once ISIS is defeated.
The U.S.-Russian agreement that was being discussed focused on three elements, officials told The Associated Press: “deconfliction” between the U.S. and Russian militaries, reducing violence in the civil war and reinvigorating U.N.-led peace talks. The officials weren’t authorized to discuss the deliberations and requested anonymity.
Mr. Putin said that Mr. Trump behaved at meetings “with the highest level of good will and correctness,” adding, “He is a cultured person, and comfortable discussing matters related to work.”