President Barack Obama met with Russian President Vladimir Putin “on the margins” of the COP21 global climate conference in Paris, less than a week after Turkey shot down a Russian military plane.
The meeting with Putin was not on the schedule, but Tuesday, there will be a formal bilateral meeting between Obama and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes told reporters.
Obama and Putin are known to have an icy relationship — or what Obama called "businesslike."
“They did discuss the shoot-down of the Russian aircraft,” Rhodes said. “The president was able to express his regret over the Russian loss of life, while at the same time reiterating his belief that Russia and Turkey need to deescalate the situation and avoid steps that risk further difficulties between the two countries and frankly further impediments to the type of progress we need to make together to resolve the situation in Syria.”
Most of the talk was about Syria, Rhodes said.
“The president reiterated his strong belief that we need to work together, the United States, Russia, Turkey, our Arab friends and partners, our European allies, Iran, all at the table to bring an end to the civil war in Syria,” Rhodes said. “There has been process in the last several weeks about setting forth a time for transition. There are talks around the pursuit of a ceasefire. The president reiterated this is an area we all need to work together. Frankly, making progress with respect to a political dialogue will allow us to focus on ISIL.”
Obama also used the meeting to urge a diplomatic solution to the crisis in eastern Ukraine.