Trump, Putin signal new effort to cooperate on Syria

The presidents of Russian Federation and Turkey said on Wednesday they support the creation of safe-zones in war-torn Syria as a delegation of Syrian rebels walked out of cease-fire talks with the Damascus government underway in Kazakhstan, citing repeated violations of a similar truce agreed on in December. "It is also planned to consider current regional and worldwide problems, first of all those related to fighting against terrorism and the settlement of the Syrian crisis", the Kremlin press service said in a statement carried by the Russian news agency TASS.

Putin meanwhile said any proposed safe zones in Syria should become no-fly areas if fighting on the ground stops entirely.

The military action sparked new tension between Washington and Moscow, with top U.S. officials sharply condemning Mr Putin's continued support for embattled Syrian leader Bashar Assad. It was aimed at getting past the rupture of recent weeks and beginning to forge a more collaborative relationship.

Candidate Trump had also expressed a desire for a U.S. alliance with Russian Federation to fight Islamist militants, a goal that has been elusive since he took office on January 20.

The initial optimism on both sides has given way to a sour and uncertain mood as geopolitical gravity has pulled Trump and Putin in opposite directions and lowered expectations.

Trump will host Erdogan on May 16-17 at the White House, in the first meeting between the two leaders.

Al Jazeera's Stefanie Dekker, reporting from Sochi, said Putin and Erdogan's press remarks had revealed no new details in terms of the conflict in Syria. On these, the Trump administration appeared completely silent. "But they are still hoping for some agreement".

Russian Federation and Turkey can "change the destiny of the whole region" together, Erdogan told Putin, who said relations between the two countries are acquiring a special status. The benefits for Moscow would be reducing its diplomatic isolation and improving its image after getting caught red-handed interfering in last year's USA presidential election.

Trump denies any wrongdoing or connection to Russian actions. US intelligence agencies have assessed that Russian Federation was behind the hacking. The two leaders' call was highly anticipated, not least because of the freaky ongoing saga over Russian Federation hacking its way through the US presidential campaign to get Trump elected.

They discussed the creation of "safe, or de-escalation zones to achieve lasting peace for humanitarian and other reasons". "The chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun was an obvious example of that".

The White House says President Donald Trump and Russia President Vladimir Putin held a "very good" conversation about the ongoing crisis on Syria. The Kremlin said Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson and Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov would "intensify" their dialogue to "search for options" in Syria.

He did not provide a timeline for the lifting of these two restrictions. "It was a very, very fulsome call, a lot of detailed exchanges". It is obviously divided, and inside the Syrian society we see great problems. "I believe that the steps we are taking together will change the fate of the region", Erdogan said.

Merkel also said she raised the issue of gays in Chechnya, following reports that gay men have been detained and tortured in the predominantly Muslim republic in southern Russian Federation.

The establishment of safe zones has been a key opposition demand for the past several years. Instead, Erdoğan said that he had reached an agreement with Putin that whoever was responsible should be punished.

  • Leroy Wright