by Cassy Fiano | September 5, 2016 11:31 am
Leaders from all around the world met at the G20 Summit this weekend, but all eyes were on just two people: Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama. The two met for separate, private, meetings in China to discuss the Syrian civil war, as each leader backs different sides of the war. Millions of people have been forced to leave Syria, and hundreds of thousands are dead.
So the big question was, did Putin and Obama come to any kind of agreement? The answer is no. They left the summit without any kind of resolution whatsoever, although they have agreed to continue negotiations. Obama described the meetings as “blunt” and “business-like”.
Meanwhile, the Russian-backed Syrian government troops have unleashed another siege on Aleppo, and Secretary of State John Kerry has been talking to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov for weeks in an effort to bring a stop to the fighting between the US-backed rebel troops and the government forces. Obama was trying to broker a deal to provide aid to the civilians of Aleppo, and at least temporarily stop the bombardment of the city, but the talks collapsed.
Obama’s goal at the G20 summit meetings with Putin was to get the two sides closer to an agreement to at least cooperate militarily against the terrorist groups, like ISIS, operating in Syria. And he may have been successfull — but his trust in Putin was shaky. He didn’t believe that Putin would hold up his end of the agreement, and news of troops invading further into Aleppo increased his skepticism.
“We are back in a situation where Assad is bombing without impunity and strengthening Nusra’s position to recruit people for terrorism and that’s a dangerous dynamic,” Obama said. “We want to have productive discussions that would allow us both to focus on our common enemies like ISIS but there are gaps of trust and we haven’t yet closed the gap. We will keep working at it over the next several days. The faster we can provide relief the better off we will be and we can have a serious conversation about this involving all the parties who are involved in Syria.”
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogen urged Obama and Putin to set up a “safe zone” in Syria, with no fighting, that would allow refugees to safely flee the war-torn country, and also proposed a “no-fly zone”. Meanwhile, the Obama administration is still insisting that Assad step down, and on Sunday, he even went as far as accusing Russia of being complicit in war crimes. “You have the Assad regime which has been killing its own citizens with impunity, supported by the Russians and the Iranians,” Obama claimed. “Our conversations with the Russians are key because if it were not for the Russians, then Assad and the regime would not be able to sustain its offensive. But it is worth trying. To the extent that there are children and women and innocent civilians who can get food and medical supplies and get some relief from the constant terror of bombings, that’s worth the effort.”
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