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Obama's recent comments on Putin, Syria

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(NBC) -

President Obama said on Monday that the United States and Russia have not given up on negotiations that could stem the bloodshed in Syria, but acknowledge leaders are challenged by "gaps of trust" between the rival powers.

President Obama said a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on how to end hostilities in Syria had been "productive" but that trust issues have made negotiations tough.

Obama and Putin also discussed the conflict in Ukraine, where Russian-backed separatists have been fighting the government and the implementation of the agreement to stop the violence. 

"Well, President Putin's less colorful, but typically the tone of our meetings are candid, blunt, business-like and this one was no different," said President Obama. "We had a range of issues that we had to discuss, but the two most important were, as has been reported, discussions that have been taking place between Secretary (of State John) Kerry and Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov about ways in which we can institute a meaningful, serious, verifiable cessation of hostilities in Syria.We have had some productive conversations about what a real cessation of hostilities would look like, that would allow us both, the United States and Russia, to focus our attention on common enemies, like ISIL (Islamic State group) and Nusra, but given the gaps of trust that exist, that's a tough negotiation, and we haven't yet closed the gaps in a way where we think it would actually work. But my instructions to Secretary Kerry, and Mr Putin's instructions to Mr Lavrov, was to keep working at it over the next several days. "There was agreement not just between myself and Mr Putin, but also with Chancellor Merkel and President Hollande, that that effort should increase an urgency over the next several weeks and so that was constructive, but not conclusive. And we'll have to see whether we can actually get this done, or whether in fact President Putin, despite talking about wanting a negotiation and solution, in fact is comfortable with this constant low-grade conflict along the Russia-Ukraine border."

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