U.S. President Donald Trump and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin talk during the family photo session at the APEC Summit in Danang, Vietnam. @Adobe Stock Images.

In the lead up to the US-Russia summit in Helsinki on Monday, there is much speculation in Washington, as well as in many Middle Eastern and European capitals, about the prospects of presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin striking a grand bargain that involves a trade-off over Syria and Ukraine. The alleged quid pro quo would have Russia exercise its influence in Syria to rollback Iran’s military footprint in return for the White House scaling back the sanctions placed on Russia for its seizure of Crimea and its destabilisation of eastern Ukraine.

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