US President Barack Obama (R) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) talk before the second working session at the G20 Summit in the Turkish Mediterranean resort of Antalya, on November 16, 2015. AFP PHOTO/POOL/KAYHAN OZER
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In a striking shift, President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin are embarking on a tentative path toward closer ties and possible military cooperation, as the bitter rift over Ukraine gives way to common cause against ISIS.After weeks of accusing Moscow of trying to prop up Syrian President Bashar Assad by bombing U.S.-backed rebels, Obama changed his tune Wednesday, praising Putin as a "constructive partner" in a nascent diplomatic effort to resolve Syria's civil war. In a sign of an emerging Russia-West axis, French President Francois Hollande announced he would travel to Washington next week and Moscow two days later to discuss stepping up cooperation against ISIS with Obama and Putin.Despite its quarrels over Syria and Ukraine, the U.S. worked with Russia to secure the nuclear deal with Iran, after which Obama thanked Putin for his "important role" in that formulating the accord.Whether the U.S. and Russia can make good on hopes of cooperating in Syria will likely hinge on their ability to reconcile their disagreement about Assad's future.While Russia has sought to buttress Assad, the U.S. and its allies insist he's lost legitimacy and can't be part of any future Syrian government.
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