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Putin to Meet Obama in New York Monday

Russia's President Vladimir Putin will meet U.S. leader Barack Obama during his visit to the UN in New York on Monday, as the U.S. frets about a military buildup by Moscow in Syria.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed to Russian news wires that the meeting will go ahead after the two leaders address the United Nations General Assembly.

"Naturally the top-priority topic will be Syria," Peskov said, adding the meeting would last around an hour.

The two leaders could also touch on the conflict in Ukraine "if there is time left," Peskov said.

Putin will also hold a meeting with Japan's Premier Shinzo Abe, Peskov said.

"At the moment Putin's program in New York looks like this: he flies in, listens to his colleagues' speeches for a while at the U.N. General Assembly and gives his own speech, then he will talk to the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon," Peskov said.

"Then he will have meetings with Abe and Obama."

A senior U.S. official said the Obama meeting has been arranged "in the context of the U.N. General Assembly" at the request of Putin.

"It would be irresponsible not to test whether we can make progress through high-level engagement," the official told AFP.

Washington and its EU allies have urged Moscow to explain its military buildup in its longtime ally Syria, which has been reported to include airport facilities and bases, as well as planes and tank-landing ships.

The U.S. and Moscow have been locked in a bitter feud over the crisis in Ukraine that has pushed relations to their lowest point since the Cold War.

Putin and Obama last held a fleeting meeting on the sidelines of an APEC Asia-Pacific summit in Beijing in November 2014.

Their last official bilateral meeting was in June 2013 at the G8 summit in Northern Ireland. 

Moscow on Thursday announced naval exercises in the east Mediterranean, which are set to run into next month.

Source: Agence France Presse


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