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Trump, Putin talk by phone on Syria

Tuesday's call marked the first time Trump and Putin have spoken since the USA launched missiles against an air base in Syria, an attack that outraged Russian Federation, one of the Syrian government's strongest backers.

Berlin has said yesterday's meeting would "above all" focus on the upcoming G20 summit in Hamburg in July and no breakthroughs were expected on major disagreements, although Putin earlier called for ties "to fully normalize".

Speaking during a joint news conference following talks at his Black Sea residence, Putin said accusations of meddling in the 2016 United States presidential election were "simply rumors" that were being used as part of the political fight in Washington.

The two leaders also discussed the Syrian conflict, the violence in Libya and the human rights abuses in Russian Federation. Both the leaders are scheduled to hold two rounds of talks in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. The White House announced that the USA will be sending a representative to the Syria cease-fire talks in Astana, Kazakhstan on May 3-4.

"The focus was laid on the prospects for coordination of Russia's and the United States' action in fighting against worldwide terrorism in the context of the Syrian crisis", the Kremlin said, according to state-media TASS.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the call - which he sat in on - was "very productive" with "a lot of detailed exchanges".

Merkel was making her first bilateral visit to Russian Federation since Moscow annexed Ukraine's Crimea peninsula in 2014, a move that set off the worst confrontation between Moscow and the West since the Cold War. He took to Twitter days after the Syria strikes to say that "things will work out fine" between the US and Russian Federation and "everyone will come to their senses".

Tuesday's call marked the third time Trump and Putin are known to have talked since the US president took office in January.

The two superpowers also agreed to work together against ISIS - one of Trump's main campaign pledges before his election in November.

Trump and Putin have spoken twice since the US president took office in January, including last month following an attack in St. Petersburg, Russia.

On Syria, Germany has been firmly opposed to Russia's support for President Bashar al-Assad.

"I asked Mrю Putin to use his influence to protect these minority rights, as well as in the case of Jehovah's Witnesses".

During a May Day parade Monday in St. Petersburg, Russia's second-largest city, Russian police arrested about 20 protesters, including the leader of an organization that is helping gay men escape from Chechnya, where they are reportedly subject to torture and other types of abuse.

Merkel urged Putin to do everything in his power to achieve a full ceasefire between Russia-backed rebels and the Ukrainian government forces.

"Russia's law-enforcement bodies behave in a far more restrained manner than their colleagues in other European countries", Putin said, without specifying which countries he had in mind.


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