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 Obama, Putin first meeting in two years does not defuse tensions between the two presidents. PHOTOS

U.S. President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin delivered speeches at the UN General Assembly on Monday. President Obama stressed the importance of the Ukrainian conflict solution for the world, while Putin only mentioned Ukraine in passing. The two presidents exchanged public insults, but the very discussion between them happened behind the closed doors after the official ceremonies.

Before their private meeting, at a luncheon, Obama and Putin joined a toast with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. Putin smiled slightly as he and Obama clinked glasses. Obama, who did not smile, ended his toast by saying, "and may we never abandon the pursuit of peace." One moment, Ban Ki Moon rose to toast, and this forced the rivaling presidents to exchange glances, Censor.NET reports citing USA Today.

Later, Obama and Putin met face-to-face for 95 minutes, their first formal meeting in more than two years. The meeting was scheduled to last only an hour.

Putin told reporters after the meeting that Russia has not ruled out joining U.S.-led coalition airstrikes against the Islamic State in Syria but would not send ground troops into combat. He said any Russian action will be in accordance with international law.

Watch more: Putin said Revolution in Ukraine and war in Donbas were "provoked from outside". VIDEO

The Russian leader said he and Obama discussed the coalition's action against the Islamic State and called the talks "very constructive, business-like and frank."

A U.S. official said the two leaders agreed during the meeting about a need for political transition in Syria, but they continued to disagree on Assad's role and whether he should stay in power.

The official, who was not authorized to publicly discuss the private meeting and insisted on anonymity, said the United States does not view Russia's recent military buildup in Syria as necessarily harmful, but that will depend on whether Russia uses the equipment to fight the Islamic State or to strengthen Assad's battle against his own people.

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Read more: Poroshenko to hold brief meeting with Obama in short run, Ukraine's Foreign minister Klimkin says



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After his meeting with Obama, Putin said that Russian troops would not be fighting on the battlefield in Syria, according to the Associated Press via abc news.

The U.S., in turn, has expressed frustration as it tries to prop up a small group of moderate rebels in the country, who oppose Assad as in the same vein, if not worse, than ISIS.

 
 
 
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