Trump, Putin discuss Syria, North Korea, Middle East in phone call

Statements from both the White House and the Kremlin say the two leaders had a conversation that included easing Syria's civil war, North Korea and fighting militants throughout the Middle East.

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

US President Donald Trump and Russia's President Vladimir Putin.

Updated May 3, 2017

US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday moved to ease the tension from US air strikes in April against Russian ally Syria, expressing a desire for a Syrian ceasefire and safe zones for the civil war's refugees.

The two leaders spoke by phone for the first time since US relations with Russia were strained by the US attack on a Syrian airfield. Both the leaders set the foundation for what could be their first face-to-face meeting in July.

Statements from both the White House and the Kremlin suggested the two leaders had a productive conversation that included North Korea and fighting militants throughout the Middle East.

Trump ordered air strikes in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack that the US blamed on Syrian regime leader  Bashar al Assad, prompting protests from Assad's ally Russia, which blamed Syrian rebels for the use of outlawed nerve gas.

The White House said the two leaders agreed that "all parties must do all they can to end the violence" in Syria.

"The conversation was a very good one, and included the discussion of safe, or de-escalation, zones to achieve lasting peace for humanitarian and many other reasons," a White House statement said.

TRT World's Ediz Tiyansan has more from Washington.

Astana talks

It said Washington would send a representative to Syrian ceasefire talks in Astana, Kazakhstan, on Wednesday and Thursday.

The State Department said acting Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Stuart Jones will attend the Astana talks as an observer.

The Kremlin said Putin and Trump agreed to step up dialogue on finding ways to strengthen a ceasefire and give it stability.

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 US secretary of state will effectively inform the leaders about progress in this direction.

The White House statement said Trump and Putin also "spoke about how best to resolve the very dangerous situation in North 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.

Trump told Reuters in an interview last week that a "major, major conflict" was possible with North Korea, increasing 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 two leaders also said they wanted to continue such calls and were "in favour of organising a meeting during the G20 summit on July 7-8 in Hamburg," the Kremlin said in a statement.

TRTWorld and agencies