President Barack Obama spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin to call for an end to airstrikes against moderate opposition forces in Syria as a security conference in Munich discussed efforts to implement a truce in that country’s five-year civil war.
Obama, in Saturday’s phone call, stressed the need for quick humanitarian access to besieged areas and a nationwide cessation of hostilities, the White House said in a statement released Sunday. Obama emphasized the importance of “Russia playing a constructive role by ceasing its air campaign against moderate opposition forces,” according to the statement.
The Kremlin said earlier in an e-mailed statement that Putin emphasized the importance of a united anti-terror front and close contacts between Russian and U.S. defense forces. The leaders agreed on strengthening diplomatic cooperation, according to the e-mail.
The call was made after both countries’ top diplomats cast doubt over their plan for a Syrian truce less than a day after it was agreed. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov gave the deal less than a 50 percent chance of success. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. and Russian militaries still needed to work out coordination that would allow strikes on Syrian terrorist groups without targeting the “legitimate opposition.”