Obama thanks Putin for Russia's 'important role' in achieving Iranian 'milestone'

President Barack Obama thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin in a phone call Wednesday for the “important role” Russia played in achieving a final Iranian nuclear deal, the White House said.

In a readout of the presidents’ telephone call Wednesday, the White House said Obama and Putin also spoke about the situation in Syria.

“The President spoke by phone today with President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation to discuss the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) reached among the P5+1, the European Union, and Iran regarding Iran’s nuclear program,” the White House said in the readout.

“The President thanked President Putin for Russia’s important role in achieving this milestone, the culmination of nearly 20 months of intense negotiations. They affirmed that the JCPOA represents an historic solution that will verifiably prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon by cutting off all of the pathways to a bomb while ensuring the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program going forward. The leaders committed to remain in close coordination as the JCPOA is operationalized and also expressed a desire to work together on reducing regional tensions, particularly in Syria.”

It’s the second time in a couple days that the administration has spoken favourably of the interactions betwen Obama and Putin, despite lingering tensions over issues like Ukraine. During an interview with Tom Friedman of The New York Times on Tuesday, Obama said he was “encouraged” by Russia’s role in the Iran talks and that Putin had called him a few weeks ago, when they spoke about Syria.

“I think they get a sense that the [Bashar] Assad regime is losing a grip over greater and greater swaths of territory inside of Syria [to Sunni jihadist militias] and that the prospects for a [Sunni jihadist] takeover or rout of the Syrian regime is not imminent but becomes a greater and greater threat by the day,” Obama said in the interview. “That offers us an opportunity to have a serious conversation with them.”

Obama has spoken with other European leaders — including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, and UK Prime Minister David Cameron — over the past two days after world powers and Iran clinched a final agreement.

Obama also spoke on Tuesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and King Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia, both of whom are opposed to the diplomatic agreement.

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