President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin signaled improving prospects for cooperation in Syria Tuesday in what the White House called a "very good" phone discussion that included a focus on setting up safe zones in the war-torn nation.
The Kremlin said the leaders also agreed to try to set up their first in-person meeting in July, on the sidelines of an international summit in Germany. The White House later confirmed that information.
Tuesday's call marked the first time Trump and Putin have spoken since the U.S. launched missiles against an air base in Syria, an attack that outraged Russia, one of the Syrian government's strongest backers. The U.S. military action sparked new tensions between Washington and Moscow, with top U.S. officials sharply condemning Putin's continued support for embattled Syrian leader Bashar Assad.
But the leaders appeared to again be edging toward closer cooperation following Tuesday's call. The Kremlin said Trump and Putin agreed to bolster diplomatic efforts to resolve the Syrian civil war, which has left hundreds of thousands dead and millions more displaced. The White House announced it would send a top State Department official to Russian-led talks on Syria that begin Wednesday in Kazakhstan.
Call me a cynic but I have no confidence that Trump and Putin have not had communications before this phone call of which the American people are simply not aware.
I personally think that Trump and Putin are desperately looking for some reason, such as Syria, to take their relationship public and openly communicate without the press scrutinizing it and suggesting that it is related to the hacking of the election.
That also makes me highly skeptical of the events in Syria, and exactly how much the Russians knew about what Assad was up to before the attack.
In my opinion we need to carefully monitor EVERY public and private interaction between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin and I certainly expect the press to be our eyes and ears in that regard.