U.S. President Barack Obama says he had a “businesslike” meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G20 summit in China and spoke with him about Syria, Ukraine, and cybersecurity.
Obama told reporters in Hangzhou on September 5 that the two leaders discussed ongoing negotiations between their top diplomats over Syria. He said they agreed to instruct their diplomats to keep trying over the coming days to reach an accord that could lead to a durable cessation of hostilities.
He said any cease-fire accord must also allow delivery of humanitarian aid to suffering civilians.
Obama warned that the current situation in Syria, in which he said Moscow’s ally Damascus is bombing opposition forces “with impunity,” is strengthening the ability of extremist groups to recruit new members.
The U.S. president said he also spoke with Putin about Ukraine and the urgency of implementing the Minsk agreement. He said he made clear to the Russian leader that until the Minsk accord is implemented, Washington “will not pull down sanctions.”
Obama said the meeting was “constructive but not conclusive.” He said, "We will see whether Putin, despite talking about wanting a negotiated solution, is comfortable with a constant low-grade conflict on the Russian-Ukraine border.”
Finally, Obama said he also spoke with Putin about cybersecurity and U.S. concern over cyber intrusions from Russia and other countries.
He said he hopes all states with cyber capabilities will act responsibly rather than use their technologies to weaken other states. He said Washington does not want to see “an arms race” in cyberspace.