Trump and Putin ‘agree to defeat IS in Syria’

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and US President Donald J. Trump (R) talk at the start of a leader"s meeting at the 25th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Da Nang, Vietnam, 11 November 201Image copyright EPA
Image caption Vladimir Putin (L) and Donald Trump have kept the world guessing about whether they would formally meet in Vietnam

US President Donald Trump and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin have agreed to defeat so-called Islamic State (IS) in Syria, the Kremlin says.

It said a statement was prepared by experts after they met briefly on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific summit in Vietnam on Saturday.

There has been no official confirmation from the US about the statement so far.

The Kremlin say they also agreed there was no military solution to the conflict in Syria.

A meeting between President Trump and Vladimir Putin was widely expected at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) summit, but few details have emerged.

In total the two leaders had three encounters in the Vietnamese port city of Da Nang since late on Friday.

They met for the first time in July at the G20 summit in the German city of Hamburg.

Questions over Donald Trump’s ties to Moscow have dogged his presidency, with key former aides under investigation for alleged collaboration with Russian interference in the 2016 election. The Kremlin has denied the allegations.

While there was no official comment from the White House, a statement released by the Kremlin on Saturday said the leaders had “agreed that the conflict in Syria has no military solution”.

They also confirmed their “determination to defeat Isis [another term for IS]” and called on all parties to take part in the Geneva peace process.

According to Russia’s Interfax news agency, they also promised to maintain existing Russian-US military channels of communication to prevent “serious incidents involving the forces of partners combating IS”.

Russia has been the Syrian government’s main ally in the six-year long civil war. The US meanwhile has been backing Syrian Arab and Kurdish rebels on the ground, and since 2014 it has led a coalition carrying out air strikes against IS in Syria.

The jihadist group has been pushed out of its main strongholds in the country in recent months by a combination of offensives involving the Syrian army and the US-backed Kurdish and Arab coalition.

Mr Trump and President Putin posed side by side for a photo in custom-made blue shirts for the summit on Friday. They also shook hands as leaders sat down for talks on Saturday morning and later exchanged a few words before a “family photo” of attendees.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The two stood side by side in matching shirts for a group photo on Friday

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also met his US counterpart Rex Tillerson earlier the same day, a source from the Russian delegation told Interfax news agency. The Kremlin said the two had co-ordinated the statement on Syria especially for the meeting in Da Nang.

Questions over whether the two leaders would formally meet or not were raised after conflicting statements from the White House and the Kremlin on Friday.

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