At G-20, Obama stresses Russia's role in Syria ceasefire

Last Updated Sep 5, 2016 7:09 AM EDT

HANGZHOU, China -- President Obama’s last day at the G-20 economic summit in China was overshadowed by North Korea’s latest missile test. Nuclear-armed North Korea fired three ballistic missiles that flew about 600 miles and landed in the water near Japan. It’s being seen as a “provocation” aimed at Mr. Obama. 

At the summit, Mr. Obama had hoped to broker a groundbreaking deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin to coordinate air strikes against ISIS and al Qaeda linked terrorists in Syria. In a 90-minute meeting, Mr. Obama tried to salvage a ceasefire deal in Syria, but he’s leaving empty-handed. At the last minute, Russia pulled back, reports CBS News correspondent Margaret Brennan. 

The proposed deal would have stopped their ally, dictator Bashar al-Assad, from bombing civilians and U.S.-backed rebels, while also allowing aid into starving cities like Aleppo. Sadly, the city came under siege as the deal fell apart.

President Obama said they needed the Russians if they’re to make progress in Syria. 

“If we do not get some buy-in from the Russians on reducing the violence and easing the humanitarian crisis, then it’s difficult to see how we get to the next phase,” Mr. Obama said. 

Any alliance with Russia would be extraordinary given their brutal behavior inside Syria. But Putin’s military might has made him indispensable. The White House is reluctant to use force and has no diplomatic backup plan.

The Mideast crisis overshadowed Mr. Obama’s main mission at the G-20: to bridge tensions with China, whose aggressive military expansion in Asia is rattling nerves.

The White House strongly condemned the North Korean missile test and called it a “reckless” threat to boats and planes in the area. Behind closed doors, Mr. Obama pressured China’s Xi Jinping to rein in North Korea, a country he still provides financial support.