MOSCOW: Russia’s President Vladimir Putin will meet United States leader Barack Obama during his visit to the United Nations in New York City on Monday (Tuesday in Manila), as the US frets about a military buildup by Moscow in Syria.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed to Russian news wires that the meeting will go ahead after the two leaders address the UN General Assembly.
“Naturally the top-priority topic will be Syria,” Peskov said, adding the meeting would last around an hour.
The two leaders could also touch on the conflict in Ukraine “if there is time left,” he said.
Putin will also hold a meeting with Japan’s Premier Shinzo Abe, Peskov added.
“At the moment Putin’s program in New York looks like this: he flies in, listens to his colleagues’ speeches for a while at the UN General Assembly and gives his own speech, then he will talk to the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon,” Peskov said.
“Then he will have meetings with Abe and Obama,” he further said.
A senior US official said the Obama meeting has been arranged “in the context of the UN General Assembly” at the request of Putin.
“It would be irresponsible not to test whether we can make progress through high-level engagement,” the official told Agence France-Presse.
Washington and its European Union allies have urged Moscow to explain its military buildup in its longtime ally Syria, which has been reported to include airport facilities and bases, as well as planes and tank-landing ships.
The US and Moscow have been locked in a bitter feud over the crisis in Ukraine that has pushed relations to their lowest point since the Cold War.
Putin and Obama last held a fleeting meeting on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Beijing in November 2014.
Their last official bilateral meeting was in June 2013 at the Group of Eight summit in Northern Ireland.
Moscow on Thursday announced naval exercises in the east Mediterranean, which are set to run into next month.