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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Obama, Putin Agree on Need for Syrian Transition

by VOA News November 15, 2015

The U.S. says that President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed Sunday on the need for a Syrian-led political transition, UN-mediated negotiations and a cease-fire to end the four-year civil war in the Middle East nation.

The two leaders met for 35 minutes in Antalya, Turkey on the sidelines of the G20 economic summit, with the White House calling it a 'constructive discussion,' a change from the two leaders' often antagonistic talks at other world meetings. Putin foreign affairs adviser Yuri Ushakov said the Russian leader had a 'quite detailed conversation' with Obama.

A White House official said Obama and Putin 'noted the diplomatic progress' achieved in recent weeks in talks in Vienna. At the same time, Obama welcomed 'efforts by all nations' to combat Islamic State militants in Syria and 'noted the importance of Russia's military efforts in Syria focusing' on the Islamic State.

U.S. officials have often complained that Moscow's bombing campaign in Syria has mostly targeted rebel groups fighting troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad rather than Islamic State positions. The two countries have been at odds about Assad's role in Damascus following any political transition in the Syrian capital.

'Strategic goals related to fighting (the Islamic State) are very close, ' Ushakov said, 'but tactical differences remain.'

The White House said Obama reiterated his long-standing call for implementation of cease-fire terms to end fighting in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists are fighting forces loyal to the Ukraine government in Kyiv.

He also offered his 'deep condolences' to Putin over the loss of Russian lives in the crash last month of the Metrojet passenger plane over the Sinai Peninsula. Western authorities say they believe a bomb planted in the aircraft brought it down, which the Islamic State has claimed credit for.

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