US ambassador to Russia downplays reports of friction between Obama and Putin at G-20

That May 2011 meeting between Obama and then-President Dmitry Medvedev took place amid heightened tensions over NATO's plans for a missile defense shield in Europe. The Associated Press ran a story at the time with a lengthy description of the two leaders' “cool demeanor” that administration went to great lengths to play down.

“But deep tensions remain and the leaders' body language Thursday seemed to show it,” the AP reported last year. “Obama's stern expression was in contrast to his relaxed and affable demeanor during earlier stops on his four-country Europe tour. Medvedev also appeared cool, and leaned away from Obama as he talked. The two men spoke of a strengthened personal relationship, but their body language did not match their words.”

At the time, Deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes described the relationship as warm and free-flowing and said the two leaders even "joke around a lot," according to the AP.

Monday's meeting between Obama and Putin was highly anticipated because of differences between the two countries over Syria. It also received attention because of Putin's decision to skip the G-8 summit hosted by Obama at Camp David, which was widely seen as a snub to the U.S. president.