The G20 summit is now taking place in Hangzhou, China. Two of the G20 countries that have a lot to talk about together this summit are the United States and Russia. An Obama Putin meeting took place to discuss the two countries respective positions regarding Syria.
Although the G20 summit is an economic summit, geopolitics always becomes part of the discussions. Although not center stage, talks between heads of state about international affairs are a very important part of the G20. After all, where else are you likely to find such a concentration of political power in one place?
Obama and Putin Meet
Therefore, Hangzhou was the place for an Obama Putin meeting regarding Syria. The two heads of state and their diplomatic teams met for talks regarding the situation in Syria. In the hope of negotiating solutions for the region that could help bring the 5-year-old conflict closer to an end.
Before the summit President Barack Obama had expressed skepticism that an alliance between the United States and Russia could emerge after summit. But negotiations did happen on the sidelines of the summit. As Ned Price, White House spokesman confirmed for the media. And the topic was the civil war in Syria. More details about what Obama and Putin discussed will be made available to the media later today.
Kerry and Lavrov Meet
A meeting also took place between Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The two diplomats talked for an hour but remained fundamentally at odds regarding certain issues, commented a senior State Department official, who declined being quoted.
The G20 is the second time that John Kerry and Sergey Lavrov have met recently. And the second time that they have failed to reach a ceasefire deal. The last meeting was in Geneva, Switzerland. It happened on Aug. 26. After Geneva, Kerry said that the United States will not accept any deal.
The United States is looking for a cease-fire deal between the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad and moderate rebels. The cease-fire would expand access to hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians that are now in the crossfire.
This strategy relies heavily on US – Russia cooperation. The sticking point that does not seem to let negotiations advance is what each party defines to be an extremist group and a moderate rebel group.
“Many of the groups considered acceptable by the U.S. have actually affiliated with the Nusra Front, while the Nusra Front is using them to avoid being attacked,” Sergey Ryabkov, Lavrov’s deputy, told Russian media.
With the exception of the Islamic State group and al-Qaida, the two super-powers can’t seem to agree on who exactly is an extremist. This is compounded by an old, deep-rooted and mutual distrust of each other’s intentions.
“We’re not there yet,” Barack Obama declared to reporters this Sunday. “It’s premature for us to say that there is a clear path forward, but there is the possibility at least for us to make some progress on that front.”
Image source: here.