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"We haven't yet closed the gaps"US President
And given the frosty faces of Presidents Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama in photographs of them meeting at the G20 summit in China, it seems little surprise that they were unable to reach a deal on ending the violence in Syria.
It follows equally unsuccessful talks between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry.
“We have had some productive conversations about what a real cessation of hostilities would look like, that would allow us both, the United States and Russia, to focus our attention on common enemies like ISIL and Nusra,” Obama told reporters on Monday at the end of the forum in Hangzhou.
“But given the gaps of trust that exist, that is a tough negotiation and we haven’t yet closed the gaps in a way where we think it would actually work.”
In his own news conference, Putin told journalists that there was a convergence of views between Russia and the US. He said it was premature to give details about the terms of any deal, but that the two nations would strengthen cooperation on fighting terrorism.
“I really hope that if we reach an agreement – and I have grounds to believe that it can happen in the next few days – we will be able to talk about significantly improving and intensifying our cooperation with the US on fighting terrorist organisations, including those operating in Syria,” Putin said.
The former Cold War enemies have been trying to broker a new truce after a ceasefire agreed in February unravelled within weeks, with Washington accusing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces of violating the pact.
The search for a new deal will continue but key differences remain.
While both Russia and the US are battling ISIL, Moscow supports President Assad ‘s forces, including with direct military intervention.
But Washington, also conducting air strikes at the head of a coalition, has worked with what it says are moderate opposition forces fighting against Assad. Moscow has sometimes questioned whether US-backed rebels really are moderate.