Obama, Putin in stare-down over (no, not the Super Bowl ring) Syria war (+video)
Obama and Russia's Vladimir Putin, meeting at the G8 summit, both said they want a negotiated end to the Syria conflict. But that barely masked deep divisions over how best to pressure Syrian President Assad to talk rather than fight.
So, did The Ring come up in the conversation?
Syria may have topped the agenda of Monday’s meeting between President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin – the first between the two leaders in a year. Mr. Obama appears to have had no more success at convincing Mr. Putin to abandon his support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad than Putin did in winning over Obama to his view that, in Syria, the West is wrong to demand that a legitimate government step down.
While the two presidents made it clear that their differences over a future path for Syria remain unresolved, the topic of Putin’s Super Bowl ring – and whether or not the jewel, which now sits in a display case in the Kremlin library, was purloined – received no public air time.
Airwaves buzzed over the weekend with reports that Putin might have come by the ring by swiping it from New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. The odd tale appears to have started when Mr. Kraft, speaking last week at a charity gala in New York, said Putin pocketed the solid-gold bauble when Kraft showed it to him during a 2005 visit to St. Petersburg.
At the time, Kraft said he gave the ring to Putin. Now he seems to want it back.
It’s unclear if Obama acted as any kind of go-between in the Kraft-Putin dispute. Perhaps there was no time for such light-hearted fare as the two leaders took up their differing views on the Syrian civil war – a conflict that threatens to engulf the region as it rages on.
After their Monday afternoon tête-à-tête in Northern Ireland, where the two men gathered with other leaders for the annual G8 summit of industrialized countries, Obama said the US and Russia continue to have “differing perspectives on the problem” of Syria’s 26-month-old civil war.