Contact Us
Make My Homepage

Obama, Putin Meet for 1st Time Since Ukraine Crisis

 

BENOUVILLE, France (AP) — After keeping his distance in an awkward diplomatic dance, President Barack Obama came together with Russian President Vladimir Putin Friday for a brief discussion on Ukraine, face to face for the first time since the crisis over Ukraine erupted earlier this year.

A large screen shows a picture of  Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and President Barack Obama during the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the D-Day in Ouistreham, western France
A large screen shows a picture of Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and President Barack Obama during the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the D-Day in Ouistreham, western France (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, Pool)

The roughly 15-minute conversation on the sidelines of a lunch for world leaders in France was casual and didn’t rise to the level of a formal bilateral meeting, the White House said. Still, the surprise encounter, coupled with the news of the first meeting between Putin and Ukraine’s new president, offered new hopes for an easing of tensions in a crisis that’s revived East-West tensions left over from the last century.

The U.S. and Russia offered few immediate details about what transpired in the lunchtime chat on the sidelines of commemorations in Normandy marking the 70th anniversary of D-Day. But Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said the two had exchanged opinions about Ukraine and the situation in the nation’s restive east, where Ukrainian forces have been fighting with pro-Russian insurgents.

“Putin and Obama spoke for the need to end violence and fighting as quickly as possible,” Peskov said.

Only minutes earlier, Obama to be dodging Putin deliberately as leaders attending the festivities posed for a group photo outdoors. Separated by three others — including Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II — Obama and Putin traded no words as the photographer snapped away.

Later, as leaders strolled casually into a nearby building for lunch, Obama winded up directly behind Putin and within arms-length, but averted his gaze, underscoring his reluctance to engage with the Russian leader he’s refused to meet with since Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in a sharp escalation of tensions.

The Obama-Putin meeting followed a gathering earlier in the week in Brussels of leaders from the Group of Seven wealthier nations who pointedly met without Putin. Afterward, the leaders said the Russian president could avoid tougher sanctions in part by recognizing the legitimacy of the government that takes over in Ukraine on Saturday and ending support for an insurgency in eastern Ukrainian cities that the U.S. has said is backed by the Kremlin.

Obama and Putin have spoken multiple times by phone since the crisis erupted, but not in person, until their mutual interest in paying tribute to the bravery of Allied forces 70 years ago brought them both to the shores of France.

Obama told reporters Thursday that if he and Putin ended up speaking, he would tell the Russian leader that he has a new path to engage with Ukraine through President-elect Petro Poroshenko, who is scheduled to take office Saturday.

“If he does not, if he continues a strategy of undermining the sovereignty of Ukraine, then we have no choice but to respond” with more sanctions, Obama said.

Obama, who said his relationship with Putin is “businesslike,” expressed hope that the Russian leader is “moving in a new direction” on Ukraine since he didn’t immediately denounce Poroshenko’s election on May 25. “But I think we have to see what he does and not what he says,” Obama said.

Putin and Poroshenko also met in France on Friday, their first such meeting since Poroshenko was elected last month. The Kremlin said Putin and Poroshenko spoke of their desire for a quick end to hostilities in southeastern Ukraine.

Friday’s exchange came during a lunch hosted by French President Francois Hollande in Benouville.

___

Associated Press writers Nedra Pickler in Paris and Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed to this report.

___

Follow Julie Pace at http://twitter.com/jpaceDC

 

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Best of the Web


Leave a Comment

It appears that you already have an account created within our VIP network of sites on . To keep your points and personal information safe, we need to verify that it's really you. To activate your account, please confirm your password. When you have confirmed your password, you will be able to log in through Facebook on both sites.

Forgot your password?

*Please note that your points, prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

It appears that you already have an account on this site associated with . To connect your existing account with your Facebook account, just click on the account activation button below. You will maintain your existing profile and VIP program points. After you do this, you will be able to always log in to http://nj1015.com using your Facebook account.

*Please note that your points, prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

Please fill out the information below to help us provide you a better experience.

Register on New Jersey 101.5 quickly by logging in with your Facebook account. It's just as secure, and no password to remember!

Not a Member? Sign Up Here

Register on New Jersey 101.5 quickly by logging in with your Facebook account. It's just as secure, and no password to remember!