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White House Official Stumped on How Much Obama Does ‘Not Like’ Putin

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"Umm ..."

FOR USE AS DESIRED, YEAR END PHOTOS - FILE - President Barack Obama meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, Monday, June 17, 2013. Obama and Putin discussed the ongoing conflict in Syria during their bilateral meeting. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File) AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File

During a forum in Washington, D.C., Wednesday, White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes was nearly speechless when trying to give a diplomatic answer about the noted frosty relationship between President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The event came after the two leaders had a one-on-one meeting at the United Nations this week and while the two powers are at odds on how to handle the crisis in Syria.

FOR USE AS DESIRED, YEAR END PHOTOS - FILE - President Barack Obama meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, Monday, June 17, 2013. Obama and Putin discussed the ongoing conflict in Syria during their bilateral meeting. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File) AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File Image source: AP/Evan Vucci, File

At the forum sponsored by the Atlantic, journalist Jeffrey Goldberg asked Rhodes how much Obama does "not like" Putin and where Putin, in Obama's eyes, fell "on the scale" compared to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Pope Francis and French President François Hollande.

Rhodes' answer is reported by the Daily Mail:

'Umm....' he said after The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg put the question to him. 'I, I don't think there's any way to answer that.'

Goldberg pressed him. 'I think you should try....make believe they're not here,' he said, as a live audience at The Atlantic sponsored Washington Ideas Forum whooped with laughter.

'Can we put the Pope at the top?' Rhodes asked before letting out a couple umm and uhh's as he tried to diplomatically answer the question.

He finally said, 'In terms of their personal relationship, umm, you know, he, he is what, you know, what you see. And when they sit down together, they talk on the phone, it's not like they're, you know, umm, uhh getting into arguments.'

'They're, they're disagreeing with one another, and they're having very straightforward conversations with each other about how they differ,' he said.

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