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Obama Wants Ukraine Deal, 'Not Optimistic' Over Syria

U.S. President Barack Obama (left) talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Lima, Peru, on November 20.

U.S. President Barack Obama says he wants to reach a negotiated peace settlement in Ukraine before he leaves office in January.

Obama, during a wide-ranging press conference in Peru on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, also criticized Iran and Russia's role in Syria’s brutal civil war.

Obama said he talked with Russian President Vladimir Putin on November 20 about Ukraine and the "need for us to get things done."

"I urged him to instruct his negotiators to work with ourselves, with France, with Germany, with Ukraine to see if we can get that done before my term is up," Obama added.

Moscow has backed pro-Russia separatists fighting government forces in eastern Ukraine, where the conflict has killed nearly 10,000 people.

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's shock election victory has been met with trepidation in Kyiv because of the billionaire's praise for Putin.

Obama also said he was "not optimistic" about the immediate future of Syria, where government forces backed by Russian warplanes have been bombarding rebel-held parts of the northern city of Aleppo.

The president said once Russia and Iran backed the Syrian government, it was "very hard to see a way in which even a trained and committed moderate opposition could hold its ground."

Obama also insisted that he would allow Trump to "put forward his platform and his arguments," but suggested he would speak out if core U.S. values were threatened.

Obama also urged Trump to retain U.S. support for a liberal world order, warning world peace and prosperity depended on it.

"The main advice that I give to the incoming president is the United States really is an indispensable nation in our world order," Obama said.

With reporting by AP and AFP
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