Obama, Putin Meet ... for All of 15 Seconds

They have a brief greeting at G20 summit

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 5, 2013 5:35 PM CDT

(Newser) – They were originally supposed to have a separate summit of their own. But instead, Vladimir Putin and President Obama managed all of 15 seconds of "tight smiles and a businesslike handshake" as Obama arrived in Russia for the G20 summit, reports Reuters. It might be all the face time they have with each other, as the two leaders stake out their opposite positions on what to do about Syria. Consider this nugget from the Guardian: Russian officials changed the seating order at the summit to go by the English alphabet rather than the Russian one. That puts five leaders between the two of them. "Had the Russian alphabet been used, Putin and Obama would have been almost cheek-by-jowl," writes Ian Traynor.

As the summit got underway, the AP reports that Obama tried to make his case on the sidelines to Japan's prime minister. "The use of chemical weapons in Syria is not only a tragedy but also a violation of international law that must be addressed," he said. But a Chinese official responded, "War isn't the fundamental way to solve problems in Syria." Obama, however, is getting support from France, reports the Wall Street Journal. President François Hollande is pushing European leaders at the summit to back a statement denouncing Bashar al-Assad's regime.

Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with President Obama.   (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
President Obama reaches to shakes hands with Vladimir Putin during arrivals for the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Pool)
President Obama shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Pool)
President Obama and Vladimir Putin shake hands.   (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
President Obama speaks with Vladimir Putin at the Konstantin Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia.   (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
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