Gaps of trust hamper Syria deal with Russia —Obama

Russian President Vladmir Putin (left) and United States President Barack Obama

United States President Barack Obama says an agreement with Russia on ending the violence in Syria is being hampered by “gaps of trust” between the two governments.

Asked by CNN about his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the President described it as “candid” and “blunt” focusing mainly on Syria and Ukraine.

Mr Obama called the discussion on Syria “productive” about what a real cessation of hostilities would actually look like.

“We have had some productive conversations about what a real cessation of hostilities would look like that would allow us both… to focus our attention on common enemies.”

Obama added that currently the gaps have not been closed in negotiations between Russia and the US in a way that they think would “actually work.” Obama urged Kerry and Lavrov to work together in the coming days to get aid to those in need.

Obama and his Russian counterpart Putin met Monday as talks between their governments on ending violence in Syria ended without an agreement.

The two leaders conversed on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit here for ninety minutes, a senior US official said, and worked to clarify gaps in negotiations over on the Syrian crisis. The pair also discussed Ukraine and Russia’s cyber intrusions, the official said.

The exchange came after talks between Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov failed to result in a Syria ceasefire agreement. They had been working to negotiate a plan that would have boosted military cooperation between the two nations in an effort to better target terrorists and prevent civilian deaths.

Negotiators failed to work through differences, and the talks have ended for now. Following Obama’s meeting with Putin, an official said the leaders indicated a desire for Kerry and Lavrov to reconvene deliberations in the coming days.

“It was constructive,” a US official said after the meeting, noting that all differences were not resolved. The official spoke anonymously to discuss a private conversation.

“It’s clear now what our respective positions are,” the official said. “And we’ll see in coming days whether on Syria we can reach a near-term agreement. If we cannot get the type of agreement we want, we will walk away from that effort.”