Obama, Putin Tussle Over Syria ... and G8 Gym

Obama calls dibs, so Putin swims in lake
By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 17, 2013 7:10 PM CDT
Obama Works Out in G8 Gym—So Putin Swims in Lake
Then Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin swims while traveling in the mountains of the Siberian Tyva region in 2009.   (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, POOL, file)

Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin had a reportedly tense 2-hour meeting at the G8 summit today. The two leaders butted heads over the conflict in Syria, the Washington Post reports. "Our opinions do not coincide," said Putin. "But all of us have the intention to stop the violence in Syria." Obama echoed that, saying "we do have differing perspectives on the problem." While the US has agreed to supply rebel forces with weapons, Russia remains Assad's main weapons supplier; the White House also announced today that it will send another $300 million in aid for Syrian refugees, reports the BBC. The AP notes that Syria will continue to be the hot topic among G8 leaders at a working dinner tonight; Obama is expected to push Britain and France to join the US in arming the rebels.

But the real standoff between Obama and Putin happened outside of a meeting room, reports the Sun. According to a source: "Both wanted the gym and Obama’s people requested it first. It could have sparked a bitter battle and ended up a laughable sticking point at the talks—but the Russians backed down." So while Obama worked out in air-conditioned comfort, the notoriously tough Putin went swimming in a chilly nearby lake. Another quirky G8 side note: Putin and Obama are neighbors. (More Vladimir Putin stories.)

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