The United States and Russia issued a presidential joint statement saying there was "no military solution" to the war in Syria, the Kremlin said yesterday, after their leaders met briefly on the sidelines of a regional summit in Vietnam.
There had been mixed messages for days from both Moscow and the White House on whether president Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin would hold face-to-face discussions during the APEC summit in Danang.
The pair were seen sharing cordial handshakes and brief conversations three times during the summit but there were no sit-down talks between the two.
In a statement published on its website, the Kremlin said the two presidents had made progress on Syria, which has been battered by six years of civil war.
The US and Russia have backed competing factions in the bloody conflict and agreement between them on the next steps towards peace is rare.
"The presidents agreed that there is no military solution to the conflict in Syria," the statement said, adding that the two sides "confirmed their determination to defeat ISIS" -- an alternative name for the Islamic State jihadist group.
The statement also added that the two sides had agreed to keep military channels open to avoid potential clashes over Syria and urged the warring sides to participate in UN-led peace talks in Geneva.
The publication of the statement on the Kremlin's website took reporters travelling with Trump by surprise and there was no immediate response from the White House.
Russia has run a major bombing campaign in Syria since 2015 when it stepped in to support President Bashar al-Assad's fight against rebels -- some of them US-backed -- tipping the conflict in his favour.
The Russian military has recently accused the United States of merely "pretending" to fight IS in Iraq and of hindering the Russian-backed offensive in eastern Syria.