President Barack Obama shook hands with Vladimir Putin as he arrived for a tense G-20 summit Thursday, a day after the Russian president accused Secretary of State John Kerry of “lying” to Congress over Syria.
The pair exchanged formal greetings in front of cameras in St. Petersburg at the start of the two-day meeting, which is scheduled to focus on economic issues but will be overshadowed by the international response to chemical weapons in Syria.
Host nation Russia is a key ally of Syria’s President Bashar Assad, and Putin has stated that U.S. plans for military strikes amounted to an act of “aggression” if they did not come with unanimous United Nations Security Council approval.
Tensions were raised further Wednesday when Putin alleged that Kerry had lied to Congress about the role of al Qaeda in the Syria conflict.
“I saw debates in Congress. A congressman asks Mr Kerry: 'Is al Qaeda there?' He says: 'No, I am telling you responsibly that it is not'," Putin said at a meeting of his human rights council in the Kremlin, according to Reuters.
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