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Emotional Baggage: Vladimir Putin Ribs John Kerry Over Carrying His Own Luggage

Before the Secretary of State and the Russian President began a nearly four-hour discussion on Syria, Vladimir Putin provided a moment of odd levity.

In America, we carry our own weight.

With the latest round of Syrian peace talks underway in Geneva, Secretary of State John Kerry was in Moscow Thursday to talk with one of President Bashar Al-Assad’s chief supporters — Vladimir Putin.

Image: US Secretary of State John Kerry in Moscow
Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Secretary of State John Kerry at the Kremlin in Moscow on March 24.ALEXANDER NEMENOV / Pool via EPA

The discussion was to focus on matters that couldn’t be more consequential to Syrians: expanding access to humanitarian aid, maintaining the cessation of hostilities, implementing a political transition.

But before what became a nearly four-hour talk began, the Russian president — speaking during a joint appearance with Kerry at the Kremlin — provided a moment of odd levity: he was “frustrated and upset,” he told Kerry, to see such a senior official carrying his own luggage from the plane.

Related: Syria War: Five Years of Hunger, Horror, Heartbreak

“On the one hand, it’s quite a democratic way of conduct, but on the other hand, I thought probably the situation in the United States is not that good and there is no one to assist the Secretary of State in carrying his luggage,” Putin said.

The American economy is “okay,” he quipped, before adding that there was “probably” something in that “briefcase of yours you couldn’t trust anyone else with. Probably you brought some money with you to haggle on key matters.”

Kerry took Putin’s humor in stride, replying: “When we have a private moment, I’ll show you what’s in my briefcase. And I think you’ll be surprised — pleasantly.”

Image: U.S. Secretary of State Kerry arrives in Moscow
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry gets off a plane upon his arrival at Moscow's Vnukovo airport, Russia, March 23, 2016.MAXIM ZMEYEV / Reuters