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Vladimir Putin calls US 'weak' on Syria as Russia talks are shunned
Russian President Vladimir Putin, second from left, and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev in Astana, Kazakhstan. Photo: Alexei Nikolsky
Russian President Vladimir Putin said US policy on Syria is weak and lacks objectives, though he remains open to direct talks as Russia continues its bombing campaign in support of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.
"I don't really understand how the US can criticise Russia's actions in Syria if they refuse to have direct dialogue," Mr Putin told reporters on Thursday during a visit to Astana, Kazakhstan. "The basic weakness of the American position is that they don't have an agenda, though we're keeping the door open" for talks, he said.
The basic weakness of the American position is that they don't have an agenda.
Vladimir Putin, Russian President
Amid growing friction over Russian air strikes in Syria that began on September 30, the US rejected Mr Putin's offer to send a delegation led by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to Washington to explain the campaign against Islamic State and other militants, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday.
Mr Putin accused some states of having "oatmeal in their heads" on Tuesday for failing to understand that Russia's intervention seeks to defeat terrorism. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov expressed "regret" on Wednesday over the American rejection of high-level talks.
"We've said that we're not interested in doing that, as long as Russia is not willing to make a constructive contribution to our counter-ISIL effort," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said on Wednesday, using an acronym for Islamic State. "Russia has their own agenda and it's an agenda right now that they're pursuing on their own."
Russia and NATO member Turkey are establishing "lines of communication between our militaries in connection with events taking place in Syria" following tensions over violations of Turkish airspace, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksey Meshkov told a conference in Moscow on Thursday, according to the Interfax news service. Turkey and Russia can find consensus on Syria, Umit Yardim, the Turkish ambassador to Moscow, said at the same meeting.
Russia is wrapping itself in a "shroud of isolation" over Syria and in relation to the conflict in Ukraine, US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter said Wednesday in Washington. Its actions in support of Mr Assad "will inflame and prolong the Syrian civil war" while the US has "seen increasingly unprofessional behavior from Russian forces" there, he said.
In a sign of the risks involved, a Russian Su-30 fighter jet flew within about two to three kilometers of a US warplane on October 10 during a mission in Aleppo Province, according to a statement by the Defence Ministry in Moscow on Wednesday. The intention was to identify the plane and "not scare anyone", the ministry said.
Turkish airspace violations by Russian jets are unacceptable and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has "a duty to reinforce" its ally, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said after a meeting of defence ministers in Brussels last week. Russia must "stop interfering" and halt attacks in Syria, where there's a risk of a new exodus of refugees, Turkey's interim Deputy Prime Minister, Numan Kurtulmas, said in an interview with state-run Anadolu Agency on Friday.
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/world/vladimi...re-shunned-20151015-gkaegd.html#ixzz3ojW6VEie
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