White House aides, however, cautioned reporters not to read too much into Putin’s body language, saying he is not as expressive as his predecessor, Dmitry Medvedev, who developed a friendship with Obama.
“The chemistry was very business-like, cordial,” McFaul said. “I’ve been to a lot of meetings with Putin, watched lots of video of him, and there was nothing extraordinary about him today. That’s what he looks like, the way he acts.”
Obama’s discussion with Putin came as the president prepared for two days of meetings with world leaders that were expected to focus largely on the European debt crisis.
Obama hailed Sunday’s Greek election results as a “positive prospect” and called on his counterparts to “avoid protectionism” as they seek to stabilize the global economy.
Obama said the victory of Greek politician Antonis Samaras, whose New Democracy party has endorsed the bailout package that is keeping Greece afloat, would allow the country’s leaders to work “constructively with their international partners in order that they can continue on the path of reform and do so in a way that also offers the prospects for the Greek people to succeed and prosper.”
Speaking after a morning meeting with Mexican President Felipe Calderon, Obama cautioned that “the world is concerned about the slowing of growth that has taken place.”
“Now is the time, as we’ve discussed, to make sure that all of us join to do what’s necessary to stabilize the world financial system, to avoid protectionism, to ensure that we are working hand-in-hand to both grow the economy and create jobs,” he added.
Obama entered the summit with hopes of cementing international support behind a mixture of stimulus spending to spark growth and fiscal consolidation for countries struggling with high debt. The European debt crisis has contributed to U.S. economic sluggishness, which has threatened to make Obama’s path to reelection more difficult.
After talking with Putin, Obama met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has championed fiscal austerity for Europe. White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama “was encouraged by what he heard about the ongoing discussions in Europe on paths they’re pursuing to address the crisis.”
Calderon thanked Obama for his executive action Friday to stop the deportation of some illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children.
Calderon called the move “unprecedented” and said it took “valor and courage.”