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The Denver Post - - NEWS -

Cease-fire agree­ment for south­west Syria• HAM­BURG, GER­MANY» The United States and Rus­sia have agreed to col­lab­o­rate on back­ing a new cease-fire in south­west Syria, to be­gin Sun­day, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cials from both coun­tries.

The agree­ment was reached a week ago but was not an­nounced un­til af­ter Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin held their first faceto-face meet­ing Fri­day in Ham­burg, at the Group of 20 sum­mit. It would mark the first col­lab­o­ra­tive op­er­a­tion be­tween Wash­ing­ton and Moscow dur­ing the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Sim­i­lar ef­forts, al­beit on a much more am­bi­tious scale, failed spec­tac­u­larly un­der the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, as agreed cease-fires quickly fell apart. The United States and Rus­sia are on op­pos­ing sides in Syria’s civil war, which be­gan al­most six years ago.

“This is our first in­di­ca­tion of the U.S. and Rus­sia be­ing able to work to­gether in Syria,” Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son, in Ham­burg with Trump, told re­porters.

A se­nior State De­part­ment of­fi­cial, who was au­tho­rized to speak to re­porters only on the con­di­tion of anonymity, em­pha­sized the de­lib­er­ately mod­est scale of the agree­ment. “We made a con­scious de­ci­sion to fo­cus on one part of the con­flict,” the of­fi­cial said, “a more man­age­able part of a very, very com­pli­cated bat­tle space.”

The cease-fire is to take place in and around the south­west­ern city of Daraa, in a part of Syria where the front lines are more cleanly drawn and have been rel­a­tively stabler be­tween Rus­sian-backed forces loyal to Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad and U.S.-backed op­po­si­tion fight­ers than else­where in the coun­try.

Podesta fires back af­ter tweet. Ahead of a full day of meet­ings Fri­day at the Group of 20 sum­mit, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump fired off one of his more cu­ri­ous tweets of late: A claim that “ev­ery­one” there was talk­ing about the role of John Podesta, Hil­lary Clin­ton’s for­mer cam­paign chair­man, in last year’s Rus­sian email hack­ing scan­dal.

“Ev­ery­one here is talk­ing about why John Podesta re­fused to give the DNC server to the FBI and the CIA. Dis­grace­ful!” Trump wrote, ap­par­ently re­fer­ring er­ro­neously to a Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee server that con­tained emails that were hacked and made public.

Podesta fired back in kind on Twit­ter, call­ing Trump “our whack job POTUS” and telling him to “get a grip, man.”

Trump’s tweet con­flated two parts of the email scan­dal. Email hacked from the DNC server sur­faced last July, while hacked email from Podesta’s per­sonal ac­count was pub­lished later by Wik­iLeaks.

Podesta did not hold a po­si­tion at the DNC, and he was not in a po­si­tion to as­sert con­trol over its email sever. By all ac­counts, Podesta co­op­er­ated fully with the FBI in re­la­tion to the hack­ing of his per­sonal email.

Merkel’s eye roll swamps in­ter­net. As the world ex­am­ined the first face-to-face en­counter be­tween Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin at the Group of 20 sum­mit, the in­ter­net turned its at­ten­tion to a dif­fer­ent in­ter­ac­tion be­tween two world lead­ers.

Cam­eras cap­tured a can­did ex­change be­tween Putin and Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel — one that is as hu­mor­ous as it is fleet­ing. Putin, with one hand in his pocket and the other em­phat­i­cally ges­tur­ing, ap­pears to be dis­cussing a topic that Merkel seems to find less than riv­et­ing based on her re­ac­tion. One thing that we can as­sume is that the two were speak­ing Ger­man, a lan­guage that Putin, who lived in East Ger­many from 1985 to 1990, speaks flu­ently.

The in­ter­net wasted no time in guess­ing the con­ver­sa­tion topic that prompted Merkel’s eye roll.

This is not the first awk­ward mo­ment Merkel and Putin have shared. In a 2014 New Yorker pro­file on Merkel that ex­plores her re­la­tion­ship with Putin, Ge­orge Packer wrote that Putin brought his dog into a 2007 meet­ing with Merkel, who is afraid of dogs:

“In 2007, dur­ing dis­cus­sions about en­ergy sup­plies at the Rus­sian pres­i­dent’s res­i­dence in Sochi, Putin sum­moned his black Lab, Koni, into the room where he and Merkel were seated. As the dog ap­proached and sniffed her, Merkel froze, vis­i­bly fright­ened. She’d been bit­ten once, in 1995, and her fear of dogs couldn’t have es­caped Putin, who sat back and en­joyed the mo­ment, legs spread wide. ‘I’m sure it will be­have it­self,’ he said. Merkel had the pres­ence of mind to re­ply, in Rus­sian, ‘It doesn’t eat jour­nal­ists, af­ter all.’ The Ger­man press corps was fu­ri­ous on her be­half — ‘ready to hit Putin,’ ac­cord­ing to a re­porter who was present. Later, Merkel in­ter­preted Putin’s be­hav­ior. ‘I un­der­stand why he has to do this — to prove he’s a man,’ she told a group of re­porters. ‘He’s afraid of his own weak­ness. Rus­sia has noth­ing, no suc­cess­ful pol­i­tics or econ­omy. All they have is this.’ ”

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