Trump, Putin signal new effort to cooperate on Syria
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin signaled improving prospects for cooperation in Syria Tuesday in what the White House called a “very good” phone discussion that included a focus on setting up safe zones in the war-torn nation.
The Kremlin said the leaders also agreed to try to set up their first in-person meeting in July, on the sidelines of an international summit in Germany. The White House later confirmed that information.
Tuesday’s call marked the first time Trump and Putin have spoken since the U.S. launched missiles against an air base in Syria, an attack that outraged Russia, one of the Syrian government’s strongest backers. The U.S. military action sparked new tensions between Washington and Moscow, with top U.S. officials sharply condemning Putin’s continued support for embattled Syrian leader Bashar Assad.
But the leaders appeared to again be edging toward closer cooperation following Tuesday’s call. The Kremlin said Trump and Putin agreed to bolster diplomatic efforts to resolve the Syrian civil war, which has left hundreds of thousands dead and millions more displaced. The White House announced it would send a top State Department official to Russian-led talks on Syria that begin Wednesday in Kazakhstan.
“President Trump and President Putin agreed that the suffering in Syria has gone on for far too long and that all parties must do all they can to end the violence,” the White House said. “The conversation was a very good one, and included the discussion of safe, or de-escalation, zones to achieve lasting peace for humanitarian and many other reasons.”
The Kremlin characterized the call as “business-like” and “constructive.” It made no mention of safe zones.