Putin, Obama Meet, Agree to Disagree

Meanwhile, US orders embassy personnel out of Lebanon

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 6, 2013 12:06 PM CDT

(Newser) – Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin had a surprise one-on-one meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 summit today, hashing out their disagreements on Syria without coming to any real conclusion. Obama described it as a "candid and constructive conversation" and Putin called it "substantial and constructive," according to the AP, even though neither changed their mind. "We stuck to our guns," Putin said. "We do not agree with those arguments, but still we can hear them. … Everybody understood one another." More developments from the conference:

  • Obama also did his best to win other leaders to his side. He said that the majority of them were "comfortable with our conclusion" that Bashar al-Assad had used chemical weapons, and agreed something should be done—but many believed the UN should approve any action, the Washington Post reports.
  • But Putin said China, India, Brazil, South Africa, and Indonesia were with him, and that Germany was "cautious." He also said Italy was behind him, but Italy has signed a statement publicly backing the US.
  • Obama met with Chinese President Xi Jingping as well, again with little success. "A political solution is the only right way out for the Syrian crisis, and a military strike cannot solve the problem from the root," Xi told him, according to Reuters. "We expect certain countries to have a second thought before action."
  • The State Department, meanwhile, has ordered all non-emergency personnel to evacuate the US embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, citing "threats to US Mission facilities and personnel." It also warned US citizens not to travel to Lebanon, or to Iraq, NPR reports; non-emergency personnel may also leave Adana, Turkey, if they wish.
  • Obama will talk Syria in an address to the American people Tuesday night, the AP reports.

President Barack Obama shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin during arrivals for the G-20 summit at the Konstantin Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia, Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Pool)
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