Donald Trump

Trump and Putin discuss how to defuse North Korea crisis and end violence in Syria

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 May, 2017, 4:05am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 May, 2017, 10:34pm

US President Donald Trump spoke by phone with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin about easing tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

The two leaders “spoke about how best to resolve the very dangerous situation in North Korea,” according to a White House statement, which provided no further details on how they will respond to a series of nuclear detonations and missile tests conducted by North Korea’s military.

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Russia was part of several rounds of six-nation talks between Pyongyang and its neighbours, which were hosted by Beijing before North Korea formally pulled out of them in 2009. Those talks also included the US, Japan, and South Korea.

With North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes posing a major global challenge, the two leaders also discussed how to go about resolving a crisis that has raised tensions throughout the Asia-Pacific.

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Trump said in an interview last week that a “major, major conflict” was possible with North Korea, amping up pressure on Pyongyang to stand down and for China to rein in the north.

“The dangerous situation on the Korean peninsula was discussed in detail. Vladimir Putin called for restraint and for the level of tension to be reduced,” the Kremlin said.

The discussion between Trump and Putin also focused on Syria, about which the two presidents agreed that conflict in the country “has gone on for far too long”, according to the statement. The White House said the US will send a representative to Syrian cease-fire talks in Astana, Kazakhstan on May 3 and 4.

The Kremlin said Putin and Trump agreed to step up US-Russian diplomatic efforts on Syria.

The pair agreed that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will intensify their efforts to bring about a cease-fire, with the goal of beginning a real peace process in Syria.

“The aim is to create the conditions for the launch for a real resolution process in Syria. This means that the Russian foreign minister and U.S. secretary of state will effectively inform the leaders about progress in this direction.”

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The Kremlin characterised the call as “business-like” and “constructive.”

A White House readout of the phone calls says the two leaders discussed the creation of safe zones in Syria.

Tuesday’s call was the first known discussion between the leaders since the US missile strikes against a Syrian government air base. Russia is one of the Syrian regime’s most important backers.

A Russian news agency says Trump and Putin also discussed holding their first in-person meeting in July on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Germany.

With additional reporting by the Associated Press