3 May 2017

Trump and Putin discuss Syria, North Korea, Middle East in phone call

9:33 am on 3 May 2017

US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed working together to end violence in Syria in their first phone call since US air strikes in Syria strained relations between the two countries.

The White House said the two leaders agreed that "all parties must do all they can to end the violence" in Syria and that Mr Trump and Mr Putin also discussed working together against Islamic militants throughout the Middle East.

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Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump Photo: AFP

"The conversation was a very good one, and included the discussion of safe, or de-escalation, zones to achieve lasting peace for humanitarian and many other reasons," it said.

Mr Trump's decision to launch 59 cruise missiles against a Syrian airfield on 4 April in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack angered the Russians and led to some bitter exchanges between the two governments.

The White House said Washington would send a representative to Syrian cease-fire talks in Astana, Kazakhstan, on Wednesday and Thursday.

"They also discussed at length working together to eradicate terrorism throughout the Middle East.

"Finally, they spoke about how best to resolve the very dangerous situation in North Korea," the statement said.

Merkel to begin talks with Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Federal Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel during a joint press conference on the outcome of their meeting.

Vladimir Putin and Angela Merkel at a news conference at the meeting. Photo: AFP

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has begun talks with Mr Putin on her first visit to Russia since 2015.

The meeting, at Mr Putin's summer residence in Sochi, comes amid strained bilateral relations between the two nations, over the war in Syria and Russia's annexation of Crimea.

Germany was the driving force behind the EU sanctions that were imposed in response.

Mrs Merkel wants Russia to seek an end to the conflict in Ukraine by using its influence on pro-Russian separatists.

And she has again called for Russia to support the implementation of international agreements on Ukraine.

- Reuters / BBC

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