Obama vs. Putin: The Best Lines

And neither says much after a 'businesslike' one-on-one meeting
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 28, 2015 8:26 PM CDT
Obama vs. Putin: The Best Lines
President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin toast during a luncheon at the UN.   (Mikhail Metzel, RIA-Novosti, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

President Obama and Vladimir Putin met privately for more than 90 minutes today, about 30 minutes longer than scheduled, but neither was divulging much afterward. Putin called the meeting "businesslike," while Obama didn't provide immediate comments, reports ABC News. A White House official, however, also used the word "businesslike." Based on their dueling speeches this morning at the UN, it was likely an interesting meeting. Even the subsequent luncheon toast after those speeches seemed tense, as Reuters observes: "The two men shook hands and clinked glasses. As they did so, Putin smiled but Obama, with a piercing look, did not." Here's a sample of some of their differing quotes, as cited by the New York Times:

  • Obama: "We see some major powers assert themselves in ways that contravene international law."
  • Putin: "We all know that after the end of the Cold War, a single center of domination emerged in the world. And then those who found themselves at the top of that pyramid were tempted to think that if we are so strong and exceptional then we know better than anyone what to do and why at all should we reckon with the UN ..."

  • Obama: Syria's Bashar-al Assad "reacted to peaceful protests by escalating repression and killing that, in turn, created the environment for the current strife. ... Yes, realism dictates that compromise will be required to end the fighting and ultimately stamp out ISIL. But realism also requires a managed transition away from Assad and to a new leader ..."
  • Putin: "We think it is an enormous mistake to refuse to cooperate with the Syrian government and its armed forces, who are valiantly fighting terrorism face-to-face. We should finally acknowledge that no one but President Assad’s armed forces and Kurd militia are truly fighting the Islamic State and other terrorist organizations in Syria."
  • Obama: "We cannot stand by when the sovereignty and territorial integrity of a nation is flagrantly violated. If that happens without consequence in Ukraine, it could happen to any nation gathered here today."
  • Putin: Referring to "some of our colleagues," he said: "First, they continue their policy of expanding NATO. What for? ... Sooner or later, this logic of confrontation was bound to spark off a grave geopolitical crisis. This is exactly what happened in Ukraine, where the discontent of population with the current authorities was used and the military coup was orchestrated from outside—that triggered a civil war as a result."
(Read more President Obama stories.)

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