It's the biggest diplomatic event of the week and it's going to be awkward. Days after Hillary Clinton fired off half-cocked allegations about Russia's shipment of helicopters to Syria, President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet one-on-one in Mexico today at the Group of 20 economic meeting. It's the first intimate meeting since Obama snubbed Putin with a half-hearted congratulations on Putin's presidential election (it came five days late) and follows a surprising report this morning that Russia is sending war ships to its naval base in Syria. Regardless, the two sides have a lot to get done, so they better find a way to get along.
As The Associated Press notes, the agenda will focus heavily on finding an end-game solution in Syria while trying to head off Iran's nuclear program: Both countries, much to the frustration of the world community, have received crucial support from Russia. "Russia is a linchpin in world efforts to resolve both crises, and to U.S. goals for the smooth shutdown of the war in Afghanistan," writes the news service. "In the longer term, Obama wants Russia's continued cooperation in nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation." Brushing aside questions about all the recent drama between the two leaders, White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes emphasized the "rolling up their sleeves" aspect of the meeting. "I expect that it will be a candid discussion, it will get down to business," he said. "We'll be able to sustain cooperation in some areas, we'll have differences in other areas, and we'll work to try to bridge those differences." Obviously, everyone will be waiting for stone-cold photo-ops and hot mic moments.