WASHINGTON -- According to press reports from sycophants in the mainstream media, Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin had a productive, 2-hour, private meeting of the minds during this week's G-20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico. Don't believe it.
The Obama-Putin meeting did indeed last two hours. And when it was over, the two leaders actually stood on the same platform where they read from prepared statements -- and parted with the obligatory handshake after just 11 minutes -- without taking questions from reporters. It's the shortest U.S.-Russian bilateral press availability since Mikhail Gorbachev walked out on Ronald Reagan in Reykjavik, Iceland, in 1986.
Putin took three minutes to tell the assembled Fourth Estate that they had discussed "security," "economic relations" and "the Syrian affair." He also expressed thanks for the "support rendered to Russia with our accession to the World Trade Organization" and his hope this will somehow "promote the creation of jobs in both countries." He made no mention of Iranian aspirations to acquire nuclear weapons or Russian threats to veto United Nations sanctions against Iran and Syria.
As we have come to expect, our president took more than twice as long to say little more. Obama asserted that the two leaders had "a candid, thoughtful and thorough conversation on a whole range of bilateral and international issues," including, inter alia, "the new START Treaty" the WTO, "a range of strategic issues, including missile defense" and "the Northern Distribution Network that is vital to providing supplies and resources to our brave troops who are still in Afghanistan."
Notably, neither head of state mentioned how the collapse of U.S.-Pakistani discussions on reopening Afghanistan-Pakistan border-crossing points means that Moscow now has exclusive control over what NATO troops and supplies get into or out of Afghanistan. In the months ahead, we should expect the "transit fees" that Russia charges to become tantamount to extortion.
Nor did either president mention intense Russian efforts to have convicted arms trafficker Viktor Bout repatriated from the U.S. where he is serving a 25-year prison sentence. Perhaps that's because they didn't want to reveal a linkage on these issues.
On Syria, Obama claimed: "We agreed that we need to see a cessation of the violence, that a political process has to be created to prevent civil war..." And remarkably, he declared: "We agreed that there is still time and space to resolve diplomatically the issue of Iran's potential development of nuclear weapons..."
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.