03:23 GMT +321 June 2019
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    White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest speaks during a daily briefing at the White House.

    Obama to Talk to Putin When Advantageous to US Interests

    © AFP 2019 / Brendan SMIALOWSKI
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    According to White House spokesperson Josh Earnest, President Obama will speak with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin once he determines it would advance Washington’s interests.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — US President Barack Obama will speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin once he determines it would advance Washington’s interests amid reports that Moscow is setting up an airbase in Syria, White House spokesperson Josh Earnest said during a press briefing on Tuesday.

    "When our team, and most importantly, when the President [Barack Obama] has determined that it would advance our interests to have a conversation with President Putin, he’ll pick up the phone and try to set up that call," Earnest said.

    On Tuesday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Putin was open to advance dialogue with the United States, but Washington had not initiated a contact.

    Peskov also noted that Russian and US leaders could potentially meet in New York City on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting later this month to discuss the situation in Syria.

    Over the past year, relations between the United States and Russia have deteriorated because Washington and its allies have accused Moscow of interfering in the crisis in Ukraine, and have consequently imposed several rounds of sanctions. Russia has repeatedly refuted the accusations.

    In recent weeks, the two countries’ opposing views on how to fight the Islamic State and handle the Syrian government of President Bashar Assad have continued to cause thaws in their relationship.

    The Kremlin has confirmed Russia is assisting the Syrian government in its effort to combat Islamic State terrorists. Moreover, Putin stated on Tuesday that Russia would support the Syrian government and noted that without Russian assistance, the situation in Syria would be much worse.


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