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Obama at G20 Summit: Tensions With Russia Can be Worked Out

June 19, 2012

U.S. President Barack Obama says tensions with Russia can be worked out following talks with the Russian president spanning a range of topics, including Syria, Iran and trade.

President Barack Obama participates in a bilateral meeting with President Vladimir Putin of Russia at the Esperanza Resort in San Jose Del Cabo, Mexico, June 18, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

During a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Mexico Monday, Mr. Obama said he and President Vladimir Putin agree on the need to seek an end to the violence in Syria. Mr. Putin said he and Mr. Obama found many "common points'' in their discussion on Syria.

Russia, a longtime ally of Syria, has shielded its President Bashar al-Assad from United Nations sanctions sought by Western and Arab states opposed to his 11-year rule and his violent crackdown on the opposition.

With respect to Iran, Mr. Obama said he and President Putin share an approach to resolving the nuclear standoff and said there is still time for a solution.

The American and Russian leaders held their talks at the seaside resort of Los Cabos, as leaders of the world's leading economies gathered for a two-day summit. It was their first meeting since Mr. Putin's return to the presidency after his election in March.

Mr. Obama and Mr. Putin have had a prickly relationship of late, with the U.S. leader pointedly delaying a customary congratulatory call to his Russian counterpart after the election. Last month, Mr. Putin stayed home rather then attend a Group of Eight meeting Mr. Obama hosted at his presidential retreat near Washington.

President Obama also met Monday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a new effort to seek bolder European action to resolve the governmental debt crisis in the 17-nation euro currency bloc. After the private meeting, the White House said Mr. Obama was "encouraged" by the talk.

Even as Greek leaders moved to form a new coalition government after Sunday's parliamentary elections, there were new concerns about Spain's surging borrowing costs.

The G20 host, Mexican President Felipe Calderon, said the world leaders need to firm up their $430 billion in pledges for a new account the International Monetary Fund created in April as a eurozone rescue fund for its debt-ridden countries. Some countries have yet to fully commit money for the bailout account.

After meeting with President Obama, the Mexican leader called his decision last week to halt the deportation of some young illegal immigrants from the U.S. an act of "valor and courage." Conservative critics of Mr. Obama in the U.S. have called the decision a form of providing amnesty for the youths who were brought illegally to the U.S. by their parents.

Recent gatherings of the G20, with leaders from the world's leading economies, have been consumed with details of the European financial crisis, amid fears that an economic collapse on the continent would quickly spread across the globe.

But representatives of some non-governmental agencies are also pressing the heads of state to not overlook the plight of poor, non-industrialized countries, where most of the world's neediest people live.

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