Russia’s Vladimir Putin says his talks with President Obama were “very constructive” and “frank” – hours after the pair clashed in duelling speeches at the UN, Sky News reports. In their first formal meeting for two years, Mr Putin said they had discussed the coalition strikes on IS and added that Russia could join the attacks.
“We are thinking about it, and we don’t exclude anything,” said the Russian President. Mr Putin called their 90-minute meeting “very constructive, business-like and frank”. Meanwhile, a US official said the leaders had agreed to discuss a political transition in Syria – but were crucially still at odds over what that would mean for President Assad.
Mr Obama said there could be no “return to the pre-war status quo” after the conflict – which has claimed up to a quarter of a million lives. But Mr Putin, in his speech, said it was an “enormous mistake” not to back Mr Assad, whom he depicted as a bulwark against the Islamic State. The Russian leader said the jihadist group’s ranks were being filled with members of Iraq’s US-disbanded military and so-called moderates backed by Western powers.
Mr Putin said backing for revolutions such as Libya’s had ended in terrorism, “violence, poverty and social disaster”, rather than the hoped-for “triumph of democracy”. Without specifically naming the US, Mr Putin said: “I cannot help asking those who have caused this situation, ‘Do you realise now what you’ve done?'”
The US President also told world leaders there must be consequences for Russia’s annexation of Crimea. “We cannot stand by while the sovereignty and territorial integrity of a nation is flagrantly violated,” he said. “If that happens without consequences in Ukraine, it could happen to any nation gathered here today.”