Obama to Meet With Putin Next Week, Ending Extended Period Without Communication

In August of 2013, U.S. President Barack Obama cancelled a scheduled meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, blaming Russia’s lack of cooperation on a host of different issues.

Since then, Obama has refused to meet with Putin, and besides a brief, icy encounter at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Beijing last November, the two world leaders have had virtually no direct communication with one another.

It looks like that relationship might be beginning to thaw, however. According to a senior White House official, Obama will announce on Thursday that he plans to meet with Putin next week.

“We can confirm that the two presidents will meet in the context of the U.N. General Assembly at the request of President Putin,”

the official told The New York Times under condition of anonymity. He added,

“Given the situations in Ukraine and Syria, despite our profound differences with Moscow, the president believes that it would be irresponsible not to test whether we can make progress through high-level engagement with the Russians.”

The official said that Obama’s focus for the meeting would be to insist that Russia follows through on the terms it agreed to in the Ukrainian ceasefire deal negotiated in Minsk back in February.

Putin and Obama are also likely to discuss the Syrian conflict at the meeting, which comes at a time when Russia is bolstering its military support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Obama has called for Assad to step down on multiple occasions, and the U.S. has been supporting the moderate Syrian rebels trying to overthrow him since early on in the Syrian civil war.

The conflict has forced more than 4 million Syrians to flee the country, and has been one of the driving forces behind Europe’s current migrant crisis.

Read more from The New York Times.

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