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US, Russia approach each other cautiously on Syria

Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin have set an ambitious pace for diplomatic discussions with other world leaders regarding Syria, but they apparently agree that small steps are best when dealing with each other on the topic.
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks by phone with Russia's President Vladimir Putin in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RTSXT5Q

When it comes to finding a peaceful resolution to Syria’s civil war, Moscow and Washington are trying to keep their lines of communication open without crowding each other.

On May 2, Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump had their third phone conversation since Trump was elected in November. The first call took place Jan. 28, soon after the inauguration, while the second occurred shortly after the deadly terrorist attack in Russia’s “northern capital” of St. Petersburg, when Trump was among the first to express condolences to the Russian people. Both of those conversations revolved largely around ways to combat terrorism together, but substantively did not go beyond a “joint pledge” to do so. Trump’s offer of “the full support of the United States government in responding to the [St. Petersburg] attack and bringing those responsible to justice” was received with cautious optimism in Moscow that moving forward on the counterterrorism path might not be a hopeless idea.

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