What Putin and Trump Discussed over the Phone

Should we expect any progress in peace negotiations on the Syrian issue?

On May 2, Russian President Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with US President Donald Trump. Probably, this conversation was supposed to be evidence of some improvement in bilateral relations after the tensions that arose as a result of the U.S. strike on Syria’s airbase on April 7, 2017.

It is noteworthy that this is only the third such conversation between the Russian and American leaders after the new U.S. President took power. The strong pressure on the White House leadership on the issue of Russian-American relations contributed to the fact that both sides showed some restraint in the process of establishing bilateral contacts.

During the phone negotiations, the parties discussed the most urgent international security issues: the situation in Syria and the situation on the Korean Peninsula. In addition, the leaders also discussed prospects of further contacts, including a personal meeting in relation to the G20 summit in Hamburg, 7-8 July 2017. It is curious that the press releases on this telephone conversation between the two presidents issued by Russian and American side have some essential differences. In particular, the American report stresses that the presidents discussed the establishment of "security zones or de-escalation zones" in Syria. The US media especially drew attention to the fact that there were no any mentions of these "zones" in the Russian media.

The establishment of such "zones" is a main method of the United States, which they use as a pretext to launch a military intervention in certain internal conflicts. Such zones were established in Iraq, when Washington was fighting for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. After a no-fly zone in Libya was imposed, Muammar Gaddafi’s government was destroyed. Therefore, the Russian side treats such projects with a healthy dose of skepticism. However, the US continues to push this idea further.

The Russian report provided the information on establishing a "settlement process in Syria" and "the need for the coordination of actions to consolidate the cessation of hostilities". It is obvious that Russia and the USA have different emphases in this matter.

In addition, according to the White House, the USA also reported on the participation of its representative in negotiations on a cease-fire in Syria, which will take place in Astana on May 3-4. If the level of the American representation will increase, this may improve the effectiveness of the negotiation process. Of course, if the United States will seek to take a constructive line on international issues.

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