Photograph by Mikhail Kilmentyev/AFP/Getty Images.
UPDATE: As expected, President Obama and Vladimir Putin sat down face-to-face for the first time since the Russian strongman returned to the Kremlin. The biggest takeaway was that the two world leaders agreed on the need for a political transition in Syria, even if their respective governments have remained at odds over exactly how to accomplish that.
Here's the joint statement (via USA Today):
"In order to stop the bloodshed in Syria, we call for an immediate cessation of all violence and express full support for the efforts of UN/League of Arab States Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan, including moving forward on political transition to a democratic, pluralistic political system that would be implemented by the Syrians themselves in the framework of Syria's sovereignty, independence, unity, and territorial integrity. We are united in the belief that the Syrian people should have the opportunity to independently and democratically choose their own future."
Monday, June 18: It takes two to tango, especially in Los Cabos, Mexico, where President Obama and Vladimir Putin will meet Monday for the first time since the Russian strongman retook the presidency in May.
The Associated Press reports that chief among the topics likely to be discussed when the two leaders meet for a sit-down on the sidelines of the G-20 summit are the ongoing crisis in Syria, diplomatic efforts to avoid a confrontation with Iran, and, in the longer term, cooperation in nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation.
"I expect that it will be a candid discussion, it will get down to business," White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said ahead of what was expected to be a lengthy morning meeting. "We'll be able to sustain cooperation in some areas, we'll have differences in other areas, and we'll work to try to bridge those differences."
Both presidents have something to prove, Politico points out. Putin's anti-American posturing helped contribute to his re-election and he's repeatedly balked at following the United States' lead, particularly when it comes to intervening in the conflict in Syria. Obama, meanwhile, has been loudly criticized by conservatives for how he deals with Moscow, particularly from Mitt Romney, who once declared that Russia is "without question our no. 1 political foe."