Obama to meet with Putin next week

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President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet in New York next week, according to the White House.

The meeting during the United Nations General Assembly, which Putin requested, comes amid tensions between the U.S. and Russia over the civil war in Syria.

“It is clear he is interested in the attention of the leader of the United States of America and given the lengthy list of concerns we have about Russia’s conduct … a face-to-face sit down seems appropriate at this juncture,” press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on Thursday.

{mosads}The Kremlin has said the meeting will take place Monday, but Earnest did not confirm the date.

Obama and Putin have not met in person for close to a year, as the U.S. has sought to isolate Russia following its military intervention in Ukraine.

But the meeting is a sign the Obama administration has chosen to reopen engagement with Putin over the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine.

Earnest said “the top item” on Obama’s agenda will be to urge Russia to abide by the terms of a ceasefire agreement in Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists have battled government forces since last year.

The meeting also comes as Russia has sent military equipment and advisers to Syria to reinforce President Bashar al-Assad, who is locked in a two-front war against opposition rebels and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Putin has said the buildup is related to a military campaign against ISIS, which the U.S. is fighting with airstrikes in Syria.

But Obama administration officials have expressed concern that Putin is simply trying to shore up Assad, a Russian ally whom the U.S. has called on to step down from power.

“President Obama will make clear once against that Russia doubling down on their support for the Assad regime is a losing bet,” Earnest said Thursday.

The spokesman added that Obama will be looking for signs Russia is ready to “consider constructive contributions to the ongoing counter-ISIL effort,” using the administration’s preferred acronym for ISIS.

Putin has proposed conducting joint operations with the U.S. against ISIS while leading a political transition away from Assad, according to Bloomberg. But that has not assuaged U.S. concern about Putin’s plans in Syria.

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter spoke to his Russian counterpart last week to avoid any unintended conflicts between their forces, according to defense officials.

This story was updated at 1:44 p.m.

Tags ISIS Obama Russia Syria Ukraine Vladimir Putin
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