Obama meets Putin secretly in France
US President Barack Obama has held an “informal conversation” with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin during the 70th anniversary of D-Day in France.
Although the two leaders ignored each other at the group photograph, the White House said they spoke “for 10 to 15 minutes” once they went inside for the luncheon.
The United States and Russia are at loggerheads over the current situation in Ukraine.
“President Obama and President Putin did speak with each other on the margins of the leaders lunch,” Obama’s assistant Ben Rhodes said. “It was an informal conversation - not a formal bilateral meeting.”
A new video showed the men initially smiling with each other before the conversation apparently turned more serious, The Daily Mail reported.
A White House official on Friday afternoon confirmed the meeting.
The official said Obama warned Putin that “de-escalation” of sanctions against Russia “depends upon Russia recognizing President-elect Poroshenko as the legitimate leader of Ukraine, ceasing support for separatists in eastern Ukraine, and stopping the provision of arms and materiel across the border.”
Obama also noted “Poroshenko's commitment to pursue reforms to ensure that the rights and interests of all Ukrainians are respected, and urged Russia to work immediately with the government in Kiev to reduce tensions.”
“President Obama made clear that a failure to take these steps would only deepen Russia's isolation,” according to the official.
Meanwhile, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the leaders had exchanged views about the situation in Ukraine.
“Putin and Obama spoke for the need to end violence and fighting as quickly as possible,” he said.