Putin, Trump agree to work together on Syria, set up meeting

While news of renewed peace talks and potential headway with safe zones is encouraging, the president's phone call with Putin did not seem to result in any immediate progress.

The Kremlin, meanwhile, said "the emphasis was put on the potential for coordination of actions by the United States and Russian Federation in the fight against terrorism".

The White House readout of the call said Trump and Putin agreed "suffering in Syria has gone on for far too long".

Meanwhile, the meeting with Merkel comes ahead of a busy diplomatic push for Putin.

The White House described the conversation about Syria as "a very good one" that included discussion of establishing safe zones or de-escalation zones to help achieve lasting peace.

Trump has not spoken with Putin since he authorized an airstrike against a Syrian airbase in retaliation for the deadly chemical attack in April. The two leaders' call was highly anticipated, not least because of the weird ongoing saga over Russian Federation hacking its way through the US presidential campaign to get Trump elected.

Hale, who is co-director of the Program on New Approaches to Research and Security (PONARS) in Eurasia, noted, "It is important simply to maintain channels of communication between Washington and Moscow". The talks have taken place from Geneva, Switzerland, to Astana, Kazakhstan, where this week's talks will also take place. Assad is also Putin's chief ally in the Middle East, and Russian military personnel were stationed at the air base that was targeted, though no Russian forces were known to be harmed in the strike.

"We may be at an all-time low in terms of our relationship with Russia", Trump added, echoing similar comments from Tillerson earlier that day.

The FBI and two congressional committees are investigating whether Trump's campaign coordinated with Russian Federation as it meddled in last year's presidential election.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, on a rare visit to Russia, says Berlin and Moscow must keep talking despite their disagreements, even as those very differences overshadow talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Putin, however, told Germany's foreign minister during a visit in March that it is "our common goal to fully normalize relations and to make sure all the difficulties we face are overcome".

"We can not think about any alternative and we should not have to think of it", Putin said at a press conference in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi.

  • Leroy Wright