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Trump and Putin vow to defeat ISIS in Syria at APEC meeting

By Sheetal Sukhija, St Petersburg News
12 Nov 2017, 00:26 GMT+10

DANANG, Vietnam - The Russian and U.S. President Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump held a brief meeting on the sidelines of a regional economic summit in Vietnam on Saturday and reaffirmed their commitment to dealing with ISIS in Syria. 

The two leaders issued a joint statement in Danang on Syria, in which repeated their commitment to defeat ISIS in the country, stressed the need to keep existing military communications open and agreed that the bloody conflict does not have a military solution.

The joint statement reads, “President Trump and President Putin today, meeting on the margins of the APEC conference in Da Nang, Vietnam, confirmed their determination to defeat ISIS in Syria.”

The statement, which addresses long-accepted areas of agreement between the United States and Russia, comes after Trump and Putin spoke casually at least three times at the summit in Da Nang on Friday and Saturday.

Later, a senior State Department official addressed reporters and said that the two leaders were optimistic the U.S.-Russian diplomacy would be met with more success than the past because of the changing landscape in Syria.

The official said, "Russia got themselves involved back when it was a civil war. In some respects, the effort to defeat ISIS changed priorities for some. Certainly, for us, the priority was defeating ISIS. I think for Russia, it's a question of how long do they want to continue to support conflict."

Adding, “What the joint statement indicates is a commitment to get this to a political reconciliation and peace process. That serves their interest, it serves our interest.”

Commenting on if Russia has enough influence to bring Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad to the table, the official said, "We're going to be testing that, we're going to find out."

The White House issued a statement later that said Trump and Putin spoke for about five minutes in between events at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. 

Trump, speaking with reporters aboard Air Force One on Saturday, said the agreement is "going to save tremendous numbers of lives."

He described his interactions with Putin, and said that they got along well and agreed to the joint statement "very quickly."

Trump noted, “We seem to have a very good feeling for each other, a good relationship considering we don't know each other well. I think it's a very good relationship."

According to the joint statement, Trump and Putin "agreed to maintain open military channels of communication" between the two countries on Syria and said their efforts would continue "until the final defeat of ISIS is achieved."

The statement further read, “The Presidents agreed that there is no military solution to the conflict in Syria,” adding that the two agreed to find an "ultimate political solution" to the conflict.

When Trump and Putin met in Hamburg, Germany over the summer, the two leaders agreed to a ceasefire in southwest Syria.

At the time, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, "This is our first indication of the U.S. and Russia being able to work together in Syria.”

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