By Carol E. Lee

LIMA, Peru -- President Barack Obama had a brief conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday on the sidelines of a summit of Asia-Pacific leaders, their first discussion since the U.S. election.

Messrs. Obama and Putin had spoken before the Nov. 8 election, after the U.S. accused the Russian government of using cyberattacks to try to influence the outcome of the presidential race.

Mr. Putin had favored Donald Trump in the election, while Mr. Obama campaigned vigorously for Hillary Clinton. Mr. Trump's victory has raised the prospect of a shift in U.S.-Russia relations.

Reporters observing the U.S. and Russian leaders speaking before the start ofone of the working sessions at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit couldn't hear their discussion.

A White House official said Messrs. Obama and Putin "had a brief and informal discussion" for about four minutes.

"Beyond pleasantries, the president urged President Putin to uphold Russia's commitments under the Minsk agreements, underscoring the U.S. and our partners' commitment to Ukraine's sovereignty," the official said in a statement, referring to an agreement to resolve the conflict in Ukraine that the U.S. and European officials say Russia has violated.

"On Syria, the president noted the need for Secretary [John] Kerry and Foreign Minister [Sergey] Lavrov to continue pursuing initiatives, together with the broader international community, to diminish the violence and alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people," the statement said.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the two leaders "expressed regret thatit was not possible to make progress in Ukraine," but added that the remaining months of Mr. Obama's presidency should be used to pursue a resolution of the Syrian crisis, the news agency Interfax reported.

Earlier this week, while in Germany, Mr. Obama and European leaders agreed to maintain economic sanctions against Russia for its intervention in Ukraine.

Mr. Obama said the U.S. had "very clear proof" that Russia was behind cyberattacks during the presidential campaign.

"I've sought a constructive relationship with Russia, but what I have also been is realistic in recognizing that there are some significant differences in how Russia views the world and how we view the world," Mr. Obama said at a news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

"And my hope is that the president-elect coming in takes a similarly constructive approach, finding areas where we can cooperate with Russia where our values and interests align, but that the president-elect also is willing to stand up to Russia where they are deviating from our values and international norms," Mr. Obama said.

Write to Carol E. Lee at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 20, 2016 14:52 ET (19:52 GMT)

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