Putin, Obama find common ground in Northern Ireland

June 17, 2013 at 5:47 PM
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LOUGH ERNE, Northern Ireland, June 17 (UPI) -- Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin discussed some of the world's hottest issues in Northern Ireland Monday and found some common ground, if no solutions.

After the two world leaders met privately at Lough Erne Resort where the Group of Eight meeting is taking place, they told reporters they didn't always agree on the issues, particularly the civil war in Syria, but said they found areas where they could work together.

On Syria, Putin, the Russian president, said while he and Obama, the U.S. president, have opinions that "do not coincide ... 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, [Switzerland.]"

Obama likewise acknowledged the divergent views, but said the two nations "share an interest in reducing the violence; securing chemical weapons and ensuring that they're neither used nor are they subject to proliferation; and that we want to try to resolve the issue through political means, if possible."

Both men said efforts would go on to push the parties to the negotiations table.

Obama termed their discussions on North Korea and Iran "very productive." He said they agreed to consult closely on North Korea and "expressed cautious optimism" Iran's election of a new leader may create an opportunity for talks to resolve problems with Iran's nuclear program.

Putin said the two countries would "emphasize our interaction on all the directions" regarding North Korea and regarding efforts to persuade Iran to forgo its nuclear weapons ambitions "would be trying to do that bilaterally and in the international negotiations process."

Obama said he and Putin have agreed they "have a special obligation" to "lead the world in both nuclear security issues and proliferation issues.

"And one of the concrete outcomes of this meeting is that we'll be signing here the continuation of the cooperation that was first established through the Nunn-Lugar program to counter potential threats of proliferation and to enhance nuclear security," Obama said.

"And this I think is an example of the kind of constructive, cooperative relationship that moves us out of a Cold War mindset into the realm where, by working together, we not only increase security and prosperity for the Russian and American people, but also help lead the world to a better place."

The Russian leader said he and Obama "agreed to launch new mechanisms of cooperation" in economic matters, with talks to proceed at the levels of the chairman of government of the Russian Federation and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.

"As President Putin indicated, we had extensive discussions about how we can further deepen our economic and commercial relationships," Obama said. "With Russian accession to the WTO, the removal of Jackson-Vanick, I think we're poised to increase both trade and investment between our two countries. And that can create jobs and business opportunities, both for Russians and Americans."

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