Home | Headline | Obama and Putin can't hide their disdain for each other during tense G8 briefing

Obama and Putin can't hide their disdain for each other during tense G8 briefing

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President Obama and Russian leader Vladimir Putin put on an almost comically awkward show of unity for the cameras today as they made virtually no eye contact and grimaced as the other spoke following a bilateral meeting at the G8 Summit. 

Obama tilted his chair away from the Russian president who fidgeted with his fingers and tapped his feet. 

Putin slumped down in his seat, leaned heavily on the arm rests and stared into the distance at the scenic backdrop of Lough Erne. The usually effusive Obama, who is never short of hugs for fellow leaders, did not raise a smile, his shoulders hunched and jaw working hard on a piece of gum.

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Distant relations: President Obama looks grim as Russian president Vladimir Putin stares at the floor during a bilateral press conference at the Lough Erne resort near Enniskillen in Northern Ireland on Monday

Distant relations: President Obama looks grim as Russian president Vladimir Putin stares at the floor during a bilateral press conference at the Lough Erne resort near Enniskillen in Northern Ireland on Monday

 

 
Frosty: Obama glances away as he discusses the progress made at the meeting between the U.S. and Russia while Putin fidgeted with his hands

Frosty: Obama glances away as he discusses the progress made at the meeting between the U.S. and Russia while Putin fidgeted with his hands

 
Tough calls: Obama and Putin admitted that they did not agree over the their Syrian conflict as the U.S. arms rebel forces and Russian continues to back President Assad

Tough calls: Obama and Putin admitted that they did not agree over the their Syrian conflict as the U.S. arms rebel forces and Russian continues to back President Assad

The palpable tension in the room was evident after fraught discussions between the U.S. and Russia on Syria's bloody civil war. 

Putin told Obama that their positions on Syria do not 'coincide' but they conceded that they have a shared interest in stopping the violence that has ravaged the Middle Eastern country during a two-year-old civil war.

Obama acknowledged in the bilateral meeting that they have a 'different perspective' on Syria but he said that both leaders wanted to address the fierce fighting and also wanted to secure chemical weapons in the country. 

The words rang out hollowly in the press room as both leaders' body language appeared to show that little progress had been made on the brutal civil war which has left more than 90,000 Syrians dead.

 
Hostile: Obama and Putin's tensions were palpable despite the relative emptiness of the room

Hostile: Obama and Putin's tensions were palpable despite the relative emptiness of the room

 
Direct engagement: The two presidents have a rare moment of eye contact during the meeting at the G8 Summit in Northern Ireland

Direct engagement: The two presidents have a rare moment of eye contact during the meeting at the G8 Summit in Northern Ireland

 

 
I'm off! Obama makes a quick getaway while Putin puffs his cheeks and holds his ground following the awkward moment in front of the world's cameras

I'm off! Obama makes a quick getaway while Putin puffs his cheeks and holds his ground following the awkward moment in front of the world's cameras

 

 
 
 
Obama and Putin square off at the G8 summit
 
 

Obama mostly stared straight ahead while Putin made his remarks, several times closing his eyes or glancing to the side but never looking directly at the president.

While Obama spoke, Putin stared into the distance, looked over his shoulder at the scenic view and picked at his fingers. 

The G8 leaders' joint decision to take a more casual approach and ditch the ties at the summit seemed almost comical when faced with the frosty international relations on show.

 

 

At times, they mirrored each other's hostile body language. They rounded their shoulders, steepled their fingers and grimaced.  

Ahead of the tense negotiations, it was reported that Obama and Putin had a stand-off over who would use the gym at the luxury resort - with the U.S. President emerging victorious, according to The Sun.

However the Russian leader shrugged off the slight and declared that he would be taking his daily exercise with a macho display of swimming in Lough Erne. 

 

 

 
Cold shoulder: Obama and Putin failed to cover up the tensions in their political standpoints

Cold shoulder: Obama and Putin failed to cover up the tensions in their political standpoints

The U.S. president said both sides would work to develop talks in Geneva aimed at ending Syria's bloody civil war.

With steel in his voice, Obama added: 'We want to try to resolve the issue through political means if possible.'

While Putin has called for negotiated peace talks, he has not urged Syrian President Bashar Assad to leave power, and he remains one of Assad's strongest political and military allies.

 
Good talk? Obama and Putin went in for a handshake at the end of the press conference

Good talk? Obama and Putin went in for a handshake at the end of the press conference

 
Shake on it, buddy: Obama and Putin grip hands following the tense display in Northern Ireland

Shake on it, buddy: Obama and Putin grip hands following the tense display in Northern Ireland

 
Global tensions: There appeared to be no love lost between Obama and Putin today

Global tensions: There appeared to be no love lost between Obama and Putin today

 

 

The White House did not expect any breakthrough with Putin on Syria during the gathering of the Group of Eight Summit and the meeting further highlighted the rift between the two countries on how to address the fighting in Syria.

Obama announced Friday that the U.S. would start sending weaponry, while Britain and France remained concerned that the firepower might end up helping anti-democratic extremists linked to Iran and Lebanon's Hezbollah militia. Putin has defended Russia's continuing supply of weapons to Assad's military.

Obama's discussions with Putin capped a busy day that included a preview of future negotiations toward a broad trade deal with the European Union and speech in Belfast where he called peace in Northern Ireland a 'blueprint' for those living amid conflict around the world.