No changes in Syria after helsinki meet

WASHINGTON: A top US general said on Thursday he had not received any new guidance about the war in Syria, four days after the conflict was discussed in a closed-door meeting between US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Trump and Putin both praised US-Russia military ties and spoke vaguely about Syria to reporters on Monday after their talks in Helsinki, Finland.
Russia’s envoy to the United Nations was even quoted as saying on Thursday that the summit “will positively affect efforts to resolve the Syrian conflict.”
Still, US Army General Joseph Votel, who as the head of Central Command oversees US military forces in the Middle East, said there was “no new guidance for me as a result of the Helsinki discussions as of yet.”
“For us right now, it’s kind of steady as she goes. We have received no further direction than we’ve currently been operating under,” Votel said at a Pentagon news briefing, speaking via video link from his offices in Tampa, Florida.
The summit in Helsinki sparked a storm of criticism in the United States and abroad after Trump refused to blame Russia for meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, something Putin denies. Trump later said he had misspoken, and the White House has been struggling to contain a political outcry and confusion over the summit ever since.
But beyond the controversy over Trump’s remarks, there were broad unanswered questions as to what — if anything — was agreed during his one-on-one discussions with Putin in Helsinki.
Even senior US officials like Votel appeared unaware of how the talks might affect their work. Trump on Thursday said he looked forward to a second meeting with Putin so the two could start implementing plans on grappling with “terrorism, nuclear proliferation, cyber attacks, trade, Ukraine, Middle East peace, North Korea and more.” — Reuters