Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet US President Barack Obama ahead of the G8 summit on Monday for what could be contentious talks on Syria, with their policies on President Bashar al-Assad appearing to be on a collision course.
US President Barack Obama will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin for talks ahead of the G8 summit in Northern Ireland on Monday as the Syria policies of the two nations appeared to be on a collision course.
Putin has repeatedly vowed to continue providing military support to beleaguered Syrian President Bashar al-Assad despite pleas from the West, and has been dismissive of recent US claims that the regime had crossed a “red line” by using chemical weapons.
The US has since vowed to increase military aid to the rebels, a move that could see Syria become the centre of a proxy war between the old Cold War foes.
Washington wants Putin to withdraw Russian support for Assad, who Obama has repeatedly demanded leave power. Obama is also expected to emphasise that he wants to go ahead with a Geneva peace summit co-organised with Moscow and planned for June, an initiative that appears to be losing steam.
Speaking Sunday in London after pre-summit talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron, Putin said Moscow had always acted in line with the rules in providing weapons to Syria and demanded that other G8 countries that are now considering arming the rebels do likewise.
"We are not breaching any rules and norms and we call on all our partners to act in the same fashion," he said.
Despite their evident differences, Cameron looked to emphasise that G8 countries share enough common ground on the Syrian crisis to forge a consensus at the summit.
"What I take from our conversation today is that we can overcome these differences if we recognise that we share some fundamental aims: to end the conflict, to stop Syria breaking apart, to let the Syrian people decide who governs them and to take the fight to the extremists and defeat them," Cameron said.
US-EU trade pact
Cameron also hopes the G8 summit, held at the Lough Erne golf resort in Northern Ireland, will see the formal start of negotiations on a vast free trade pact between the European Union and the United States.
EU nations agreed to go ahead with the talks after late-night discussions in Luxembourg on Friday to convince France that its prized cultural industries would not be under threat from the pact.
Britain also wants to forge a consensus on cracking down on tax evasion and making multinational companies more transparent.
Counter-terror measures will also be high on the agenda, with Britain pushing for a commitment that ransoms will not be paid for kidnapped citizens – a policy it feels has not been followed by all G8 members.
Britain is keen to push the issue following a hostage crisis at a gas plant in Algeria in January in which 37 foreign hostages were killed, among them six Britons.
The summit is surrounded by the biggest security operation in Northern Ireland's troubled history, with around 8,000 officers on duty.
Heavily armed police in armoured Land Rovers are stationed at intervals along the country roads leading to the summit venue, near the town of Enniskillen.
Police say the expected anti-globalisation demonstrations have been smaller than expected so far. They expect around 2,000 protesters to take part in an anti-G8 march in Enniskillen on Monday.
(FRANCE 24 with wires)
Date created : 2013-06-17