President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin met on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit (APEC) in Vietnam Saturday, according to the White House.
During the brief meeting, which lasted less than five minutes, the White House said the two leaders discussed a joint statement on Syria.
The White House confirmed that the meeting took place on Saturday after having ruled out a formal meeting would occur just a day prior, citing scheduling conflicts on both sides, after weeks of speculation on the topic.
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Per a statement from Russia, the two leaders “agreed that there is no military solution to the conflict in Syria” and that a political solution must come through the Geneva process. Russia also also “expressed their satisfaction with successful U.S.-Russia enhanced de-confliction efforts” and agreed to keep open lines of communication between the U.S. and Russia military.
The White House has yet to release a detailed description of the meeting.
In addition to the one-on-one meeting, Trump and Putin were spotted shaking hands and carrying on conversation on at least three separate occasions over the course of two days at the economic summit.
Trump had previously told reporters that he expected to meet with Putin at some point during his trip.
“I think it’s expected we’ll meet with Putin, yeah,” Trump told reporters on Air Force One, as he kicked off his tour of Asia.
The Associated PressVladimir Putin
Though the White House never confirmed that the meeting would occur, the Kremlin had previously said the “likelihood is great” for a one-on-one meeting between the two leaders and that the matter was in the works for weeks.
The White House has been vocal in its criticism of Russia over its support of the Syrian regime of Bashar al Assad, directly calling on the Kremlin to cease its “egregious” support of the Syrian leader as a years-long civil war drags on in the country.
While the topic of Syria appears to have dominated the meeting, there are strained tensions between the two countries on a range of other issues, including the nuclear standoff with North Korea, fresh U.S. sanctions against Russia and the ongoing investigations into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election and questions of potential collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.
The two leaders previously crossed paths at the G-20 Summit in Germany this summer, where their first official bilateral meeting lasted for more than two hours. The two men also had another involved interaction at a meeting during the summit.