PARIS (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday and plans to meet with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday at the climate summit in Paris, White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said.
Ankara and Moscow remain locked in a dispute over Turkey’s downing of a Russian jet at its border with Syria last week.
On the sidelines of the climate discussions, Obama expressed to Putin his regret over the death of the Russian pilot, Rhodes said, while emphasizing de-escalation with Turkey.
The plane downing triggered Moscow’s deployment of an advanced missile system to Syria.
Obama plans to hold a meeting Tuesday morning with Erdogan where he will again encourage de-escalation between Russia and Turkey, Rhodes said.
Obama told Putin that Turkey and Russia need to “avoid steps that risk further difficulties between the two countries, and frankly, further impediments to the type of progress that we need to make together to resolve the situation in Syria,” Rhodes told reporters in Paris.
Obama and Putin also discussed the need for cooperation between the United States, Russia, Turkey and other countries to resolve the Syria crisis, Rhodes said.
Rhodes noted that Russia has intensified its strikes against the Islamic State in Syria over the past several weeks.
Obama stressed the importance of targeting Islamic State militants in Syria and not focussing military attacks against rebel groups who oppose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a White House official said on condition of anonymity.
During the discussion, the American president also emphasized a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine crisis, adding that sanctions against Russia can be rolled back when Moscow honours the Minsk cease-fire accord, according to the White House official.
The two leaders met for 30 minutes alongside the climate talks in Paris, the Kremlin said separately.
Reporting by Jeff Mason in Paris; Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton in Washington; Writing by Julia Edwards and Susan Heavey; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Lisa Shumaker