President Obama addressed his tense, 90-minute-long meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G20 in a press conference on Monday. The two leaders apparently held fast to their positions on hot button issues like cyber-security and brokering a cease-fire in Syria.
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Russian hackers having been implicated in some current cyber threats and security issues was a key topic. Though Obama didn't identify specific instances, he said "we have had problems with cyber intrusions from Russia in the past" and that the goal is to not to duplicate a "cycle of escalation" that has occurred in arms races of the past.
"What we cannot do is have a situation where this becomes the wild, wild West, where countries that have significant cyber capacity start engaging in unhealthy competition or conflict through these means," the president said. He added that nations have enough to worry about in the realm of cyber attacks from non-state actors without nation-states engaging in hacking against one another.
Obama also said the two countries "haven’t yet closed the gaps" that remain to reach a meaningful ceasefire deal for Syria but said that they had a productive conversation.
The president said he has instructed Secretary of State John Kerry to continue working with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov to broker a deal in the coming days.
Describing the current situation in Syria as one where the Assad regime is again "bombing with impunity," Obama emphasized the need to reach a compromise quickly and provide needed humanitarian relief for civilians caught in the crossfire of the raging civil war. He also said the two countries should focus on common enemies like ISIS and Al Nusra.