President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin talked about Syria and North Korea in their phone call today, according to official readouts of the conversation from both the White House and the Kremlin. The White House stressed the discussion of Syria and the desire to join in peace talks being organized by Putin this week. While the tone sounded cooperative, there were slight differences in the two documents detailing the conversation.
But the dueling readouts contained some discrepancies. Though both governments spoke of a cease-fire, with the United States announcing that it planned to send a representative to the cease-fire talks that begin in Kazakhstan on Wednesday, the Trump administration also said the two leaders spoke of establishing safe zones in Syria. The Russian government, however, did not mention the possibility of safe zones.
And, while it was downplayed in the press, the two leaders also apparently discussed North Korea and the escalating tensions between the U.S. and that country. One reason it may have been downplayed is because, according to a report from the Washington Times, Putin would like to see Trump de-escalate tensions with the aggressive Asian nation.
The Kremlin gave a slightly different readout of the phone call, stressing how Mr. Putin pressed Mr. Trump to de-escalate tensions with North Korea. “Vladimir Putin has called for restraint and decreasing of the level of tensions,” the Kremlin said. “It has been agreed to work jointly on a diplomatic solution that will settle the crisis.”
It’s unclear why Putin thinks the U.S. has any power over Kim Jong Un’s increasingly nutty despotism. In fact, it’s almost a given he’s well aware of how unmanageable the North Korean dictator is and his statements could actually be read as something of a cry for help.