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un general assembly 2015


President Vladimir Putin says Russia is considering whether to follow the US and its allies in conducting air strikes against Islamic State (ISIS) targets.

The Russian president spoke after meeting President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly (UNGA).

However, the meeting, and the two presidents’ speeches at the UNGA, also highlighted splits about how to end the Syrian war.

Russia said it would be an “enormous mistake” not to work with Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad to tackle ISIS.

On September 28, the US and France again insisted that Bashar al-Assad must go.

Photo Getty Images

Photo Getty Images

In response, Vladimir Putin said: “They aren’t citizens of Syria and so should not be involved in choosing the leadership of another country.”

Russia would conduct air strikes only if they were approved by the United Nations, Vladimir Putin said, while also ruling out Russian troops taking part in a ground operation in Syria.

Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin met for 90 minutes on the sidelines of the UNGA in talks that the Russian president called “very constructive, business-like and frank”.

It was Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin’s first face-to-face meeting in almost a year, with the Ukraine war also on the agenda.

A senior US government official said neither president was “seeking to score points” in the talks. Both sides agreed to open lines of communication to avoid accidental military conflict in the region, the official added.

In his speech to the UNGA, President Barack Obama said compromise among powers would be essential to ending the Syrian conflict, which has claimed more than 200,000 lives and forced four million people to flee abroad.

“The US is prepared to work with any nation, including Russia and Iran, to resolve the conflict,” he said.

“But we must recognize that there cannot be, after so much bloodshed, so much carnage, a return to the pre-war status quo.”

Vladimir Putin said it was an “enormous mistake to refuse to co-operate with the Syrian government and its armed forces who are valiantly fighting terrorism face-to-face”.

He also called for the creation of a “broad anti-terror coalition” to fight ISIS, comparing it to the international forces that fought against Nazi Germany in World War Two.

Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin have long differed on Syria: the US opposes President Assad remaining in power, while Russia has been a staunch ally of the regime in Damascus and has recently stepped up military support.

Some Western leaders have recently softened their stance towards Bashar al-Assad, conceding that he might be able to stay in power during a political transition.


President Raul Castro has called for the US to lift the trade embargo on Cuba in order to normalize the relations between the two countries.

He told the UN that was also necessary for the US to return the military base at Cuba’s Guantanamo Bay and end anti-communist broadcasts to the island.

President Barack Obama also called for the trade embargo to be lifted.

He said that he was confident that the US Congress would do so soon.

The two leaders are expected to meet on September 29 in New York.Raul Castro UN General Assembly 2015

Speaking at the UN General Assembly on September 28, President Barack Obama said he thought the Republican-held Congress would inevitably lift “an embargo that should not be in place anymore” despite its reservations over the administration’s support for it.

He said that while the Cuba policy of the US had “failed to improve the lives of the Cuban people”, human rights remained a concern in relations with Havana.

Barack Obama was applauded by delegates in the 193-nation UN General Assembly.

The embargo has been in place since 1960 and remains a contentious issue in relations between Cuba and the US.

President Raul Castro for his part said that now that diplomatic ties were back in place, the overall normalization of relations “will only be achieved with the end of the economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba”.

It was Raul Castro’s first address to the UN since succeeding his brother Fidel in 2006. Like Barack Obama, he received sustained applause.

The White House announced on September 27 that President Barack Obama would hold talks with his Cuban counterpart on September 29 on the sidelines of the General Assembly.

It will be their second meeting following on from their first historic get-together in Panama in April.

The UN General Assembly is set to discuss a new draft resolution criticizing the US embargo at a meeting next month.

The assembly has voted every year since 1982 in support of a resolution calling on the US to end the embargo.