The crisis in Syria was the main focus of a face-to-face meeting between Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin as both attended the G20 summit in Los Cabos Mexico. Whether this meeting has helped to bridge the divide in their positions on Syria will only be made clear through what comes out of the UN Security Council, which is working toward a new resolution. In any case, an attempt was made to launch what a joint press release called “a new quality” in bilateral relations.
On the extremely hot Syrian issue, the two presidents underscored their desire to work together, with each other and with the international community, to put an end to the violence and avoid full-blown civil war. Mention was not made of Assad’s stepping down, which the US has long been calling for, but Obama and Putin said they were “united in the belief that the Syrian people must have a chance to make independent and democratic choices for their future”.
Substantially common approach to Iran
Obama and Putin then confirmed their substantially common approach to Iran, agreeing that Teheran needed to make a “serious effort” to prove that its nuclear programme was solely for peaceful purposes. They also confirmed a common commitment to strengthening international counter-terrorism efforts and to promoting nuclear non-proliferation. If this is the start of a “new quality in relations between the United States and Russia” only time will tell. In any case, Putin once again invited Obama to visit Moscow, and reference was made in the final press release to respect for human rights as a prerequisite for stronger relations between the two nations.