UPDATE 1-Together again, Obama and Putin are "odd couple" at summit

Thu Sep 5, 2013 3:36pm EDT
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* Obama and Putin meet at G20 summit

* Relations strained by Syria crisis

* Obama later than others for summit dinner

By Matt Spetalnick and Steve Holland

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia, Sept 5 (Reuters) - A brief photo-op on 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.

Their sparse encounter outside a tsarist palace in St. Petersburg at the start of a Group of 20 (G20) economic summit underscored the dismal state of U.S.-Russia relations, with tensions mounting over Obama's threatened military strike against Syria, a Russian ally.

Obama and Putin have never had anything close to personal chemistry, and there was hardly any on display as the armoured limousine carrying the U.S. president pulled up to where Putin waited to greet arriving world leaders.

Both offered thin smiles, exchanged pleasantries and gripped hands for the cameras. Obama could be heard pronouncing the weather or the palace or both "beautiful" and then headed inside alone.   Continued...