A brief photo-op Thursday between Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin spoke volumes. Limited mostly to tight smiles and a businesslike handshake between U.S. and Russian leaders bitterly divided by the crisis in Syria.
As Putin escorted leaders to dinner where Syria was on the menu...there was no sign of Obama.
He arrived later. When a reporter shouted a question on whether any progress had been made on Syria, he was reported to have said leaders had only discussed the economy so far.
A day earlier, Putin bluntly accused U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry of lying by playing down the role of al Qaeda among Syrian rebel forces.
As they prepared to sit down Obama conferred with Western powers, this comes as the U.S. Congress prepares to debate whether or not to sign off on a potential military strike in Syria.
On Friday, Obama plans to meet Russian activists. That is all but certain to be taken by Putin as a swipe at him and meddling in Russia's domestic affairs.