Yesterday while exiting the White House, President Trump told reporters he had just finished a 90 minute phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin:
“We had a great call with President Putin. We’re talking about peace in Syria — very important. We’re talking about North Korea. We had a call that lasted almost an hour and a half. We’ve just put out a release on the call. But we’re talking very strongly about bringing peace for Syria. We’re talking about very strongly about North Korea and Ukraine.” (transcript)
Important to note that conversation was longer than would have been possible at any of the Bilat’s (Bilateral Discussion) during the ASEAN Summit or APEC Meeting in Asia. A further review of the White House readout:
President Donald J. Trump today spoke with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia for more than one hour. The presidents affirmed their support for the Joint Statement of the United States and the Russian Federation, issued at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit on November 11.
Both presidents also stressed the importance of implementing U.N. Security Council Resolution 2254, and supporting the U.N.-led Geneva Process to peacefully resolve the Syrian civil war, end the humanitarian crisis, allow displaced Syrians to return home, and ensure the stability of a unified Syria free of malign intervention and terrorist safe havens.
The two presidents affirmed the importance of fighting terrorism together throughout the Middle East and Central Asia and agreed to explore ways to further cooperate in the fight against ISIS, al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and other terrorist organizations.
President Trump and President Putin also discussed how to implement a lasting peace in Ukraine, and the need to continue international pressure on North Korea to halt its nuclear weapon and missile programs. (link)
♦President Trump wants Putin to withdraw any strategic interference surrounding the North Korea denuclearize plan he has assembled with regional allies and China. President Putin would prefer being able to retain a position of influence toward the DPRK.
♦Russian President Putin seems to want Trump to shift/modify his position on allowing Bashir Assad to remain in power in Syria. President Trump and SoS Rex Tillerson have outlined a prior plan for a regional governorship and a unity government framework.
It would appear there’s some deal-making in the works.