Despite tensions between the United States and Russia on how best to address the ongoing violence in Syria, President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday declared their shared interests in "reducing violence" in the war-torn country, even while both acknowledged their differences on the issue.
Speaking after a bilateral meeting at the G8 Summit in Northern Ireland, Mr. Obama conceded that the United States has a "different perspective" on handling the Syrian crisis. But, he said, "we share an interest in reducing violence" and securing and stopping the proliferation of chemical weapon use there.
"We want to try to resolve the issue through political means if possible, and so we've instructed our teams to continue working toward Geneva follow up to the first meeting," Mr. Obama said.
"Of course, our opinions do not coincide, but all of us have the intention to stop the violence in Syria, to stop the growth of victims, and to solve the situation peacefully, including by bringing the parties to the negotiations table in Geneva," Putin said on the subject. "We agreed to push the parties to the negotiations table."
Putin added that he and Mr. Obama had "agreed to launch new mechanisms of cooperation."
Both men stressed their commitment to the relationship between the U.S. and Russia on an economic level as well as a diplomatic one. Mr. Obama also described his conversation with Putin about North Korea and Iran as "productive," and expressed some hope that as a result of that country's recent election "we may be able to move forward on a dialogue that allows us to resolve the problems with Iran's nuclear program."
"As the two nuclear super powers, we have a special obligation to try to reduce tensions, to build on the work we did with the new START [treaty], and to lead the world in both nuclear security issues and proliferation issues," he said. "One of the concrete outcomes of this meeting is we will be signing the continuation of the cooperation that was first established to counter the potential threats of proliferation and to enhance nuclear security."
It's the "kind of constructive relationship" the two countries are developing, Mr. Obama argued, that will "not only increase the security for the U.S. and Russian people but also to lead the world to better place."