US President Barack Obama acknowledged that the US-Russia relationship has hit a wall,but asserted that he has not given up on improving ties with it.
“There’s no doubt that,as I indicated a while back,we’ve kind of hit a wall in terms of additional progress. But I have not written off the idea that the United States and Russia are going to continue to have common interests even as we have some very profound differences on some other issues,” Obama said at a joint news conference in Stockholm along with Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt.
“And where our interests overlap,we should pursue common action. Where we got differences,we should be candid about them,try to manage those differences but not sugar-coat them,” he said.
Obama acknowledged that the two countries have differences over Syria.
“One area where we got a significant difference right now is the situation in Syria. Russia has a long-standing relationship with the Assad regime,” he said. “As a consequence,it has been very difficult to get Russia working through the Security Council to address some of the terrible behavior of the Assad regime and to try to push towards the kind of political transition that’s needed in order to stabilise Syria.” “I’ve said to (the Russian President,Vladimir) Putin directly,and I continue to believe,that even if you have great concerns about elements in the opposition — and we’ve got some concerns about certain elements of the opposition,like al-Nusra — and even if you’re concerned about the territorial integrity of Syria — and we’re concerned about the territorial integrity of Syria — if you,in fact,want to end the violence and slaughter inside of Syria,then you’re going to have to have a political transition because it is not possible for Mr Assad to regain legitimacy in a country where he’s killed tens of thousands of his own people,” he said.
“That will not happen. So far,at least,Mr Putin has rejected that logic. As far as Security Council action,we have gone repeatedly to the Security Council for even the most modest of resolutions condemning some of the actions that have taken place there,and it has been resisted by Russia,” he added.
“Do I hold out hope that Mr Putin may change his position on some of these issues? I’m always hopeful and I will continue to engage him because I think that international action would be much more effective and,ultimately,we can end deaths much more rapidly if Russia takes a different approach to these problems,” Obama said.