Putin calls Obama to discuss ‘better coordination’ in Syria
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Putin calls Obama to discuss ‘better coordination’ in Syria

Russian president reaches out twice in one week in apparent bid to patch things up with Washington

In this Monday, Nov. 16, 2015 file photo, US President Barack Obama, right, talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin prior to a session of the G-20 Summit in Antalya, Turkey. (Kayhan Ozer/Anadolu Agency via AP, Pool)
In this Monday, Nov. 16, 2015 file photo, US President Barack Obama, right, talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin prior to a session of the G-20 Summit in Antalya, Turkey. (Kayhan Ozer/Anadolu Agency via AP, Pool)

MOSCOW (AP) — The Kremlin says President Vladimir Putin called US President Barack Obama on Wednesday to discuss the ongoing situation in Syria and the need for better “coordination” between the two countries.

Putin called for encouraging moderate Syrian opposition to disengage quickly from the al-Nusra Front, a rebel group linked to al-Qaeda. The Kremlin said the two leaders also reaffirmed their readiness to “build up coordination of Russian and US actions in Syria in the military sphere,” and noted the importance of resuming peace talks.

Putin also informed Obama of the results of ongoing talks concerning the conflict in the South Caucasus region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The Russian president said he hosted the negotiations between the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents to help stabilize the situation in the conflict zone.

A Russian tank operating in Aleppo, Syria in 2016 (YouTube screenshot)
A Russian tank operating in Aleppo, Syria in 2016 (YouTube screenshot)

Regarding Ukraine, Putin argued that its government needs to follow the 2015 Minsk peace deal by launching a dialogue with the rebels, granting a special status to rebel regions and preparing local elections there.

This was the second interaction between the two leaders in a week, as on Monday Putin sent a July Fourth message to the American president in the hope that ties between the two countries will get back on track.

Relations between Moscow and Washington hit a post-Cold War low in 2014, when Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and threw its weight behind separatists in eastern Ukraine. The Kremlin, however, has recently sought rapprochement with the United States.

In the Independence Day message released by the Kremlin, Putin recalled the history of Russia-US ties, saying that at one time the two countries were able to solve “the most difficult international problems to the benefit of both our nations and all humankind.” Putin expressed hope that this experience will help the two countries get back to working together.

US-backed Kurdish and Arab fighters advance into the Islamic State (IS) jihadist's group bastion of Manbij, in northern Syria, on June 23, 2016. (Delil Souleiman/AFP)
US-backed Kurdish and Arab fighters advance into the Islamic State (IS) jihadist’s group bastion of Manbij, in northern Syria, on June 23, 2016. (Delil Souleiman/AFP)

Elsewhere in Moscow, a youth wing of the ruling United Russia party staged an impromptu exhibit on a central square to condemn US military involvement in other countries. The Young Guard activists put up easels with the portraits and quotes of former world leaders that the activists claim were toppled by the United States, like Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych or Libyan President Moammar Gadhafi.

“Under its current leadership, the United States has become a parasite state that attacks other countries under any pretext, violating their sovereignty, causing revolutions, using military force, killing civilians and their destroying statehood,” activist Denis Davydov said. “We call on the United States on the Independence Day not only to preserve their own independence but also respect the independence of other countries.”

Putin officially is not a United Russia member despite having canvassed for the party in the past. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has been recently announced as party leader for the upcoming parliamentary campaign.

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