Putin Obama
Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) looks back at US President Barack Obama as they arrive with Chinese President Xi Jinping at an Apec Summit plenary session at the International Convention Center at Yanqi Lake, in Beijing. Reuters

US President Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin discussed bilateral relations and the global issues of Ukraine, Syria and Iran on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit in Beijing, according to the Kremlin spokesman.

"Breaks [during Apec sessions] were used several times, even more than twice, [for Putin] to speak shortly with President Obama, they spoke for a short time, but were able to touch upon bilateral relations, Syria, Ukraine, and Iran," spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

"Both leaders had "more than two opportunities for the meeting and these were brief discussions," Peskov added.

Yesterday, Obama and Putin briefly spoke when they met for the first time at the meeting but did not speak of any issues that divide both parties.

"They only had a brief encounter where they didn't have time to cover issues," a senior US official said. "We'll let you know if they interact/cover issues tomorrow."

Peskov said of their first exchange: "There were no talks. They greeted each other. They exchanged a few lines. The presidents assume they will have a chance to talk on the sidelines (of the G20) in the coming days."

Obama's assistant Celeste Wallander confirmed that the two leaders had not planned any formal talks at the Apec meeting nor the G20 summit which is to be held on 15-16 November in Australia.

This is the second time that the pair have met this year after they held a brief meeting on the sidelines of a D-Day anniversary ceremony in Normandy in June.

However, Obama cancelled a one-to-one meeting with Putin after Russia's controversial decision to grant asylum to US whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Tensions have risen between Washington and Moscow over unrest in Ukraine with Obama pressuring Russia to cease their support for pro-Russian rebels who are battling Kiev's forces.