Putin faces isolation over Syria as G8 ratchets up pressure

ENNISKILLEN, Northern Ireland Mon Jun 17, 2013 7:46pm EDT

1 of 15. U.S. President Barack Obama (L) meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the G8 Summit at Lough Erne in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland June 17, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

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ENNISKILLEN, Northern Ireland (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin faced further isolation on the second day of a G8 summit on Tuesday as world leaders lined up to pressure him into toning down his support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Following an icy encounter between the Kremlin chief and U.S. President Barack Obama late on Monday, the G8 leaders will seek to find resolution to a war that has prompted powers across the Middle East to square off on sectarian lines.

The sticking point again will be Putin, who faced a barrage of criticism from Western leaders for supporting Assad and the Syrian's president's attempt to crush a 2-year-old uprising in which at least 93,000 people have been killed.

"It's a clarifying moment to see what kind of commitments the Russians are willing to make in a leading world forum," a British official said before the leaders met for dinner at a remote, heavily guarded golf course outside of Enniskillen.

An official close to one of the delegations said the talks over dinner had gone better than expected and that a joint communiqué with Russia on Syria now seemed more likely. However, the official declined to speculate on what Russia might be willing to sign up for.

But if consensus could not be reached, it was possible a final statement at the end of the two-day summit might be released without Russia's input and in the name of the G7 rather than the G8.

Divisions over Syria dominated the atmosphere as global leaders met in Northern Ireland, a place once rocked by decades of violence but which Britain now wants to showcase as a model of conflict resolution.

Putin and Obama appeared tense as they addressed reporters late on Monday after about two hours of talks, with Putin mostly staring at the floor as he spoke about Syria and Obama only glancing occasionally at the Russian leader.

Stung by recent victories for Assad's forces and their support from Hezbollah guerrillas, the United States said last week it would step up military aid to the rebels, including automatic weapons, light mortars and rocket-propelled grenades.

Putin said Moscow and Washington had different views on Syria but agreed the bloodshed must stop and that the warring parties should be brought to the negotiating table.

"With respect to Syria, we do have differing perspectives on the problem but we share an interest in reducing the violence and securing chemical weapons and ensuring that they're neither used nor are they subject to proliferation," Obama said.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, who is chairing the summit, will on Tuesday seek to move the conversation on to taxation and how the Group of Eight leading nations can help close international loopholes in what has become a central theme for the British prime minister.

Cameron has been stung by revelations that the likes of Google and Starbucks have sharply cut their corporate tax bills in Britain using legal loopholes.

Last week he sought to turn up the pressure on other rich economies by pressing Britain's overseas tax havens into a transparency deal and announcing new disclosure rules for British firms.

Also on the agenda will be a drive by the British to secure a commitment from all the G8 leaders that they will no longer pay a ransom to kidnappers as part of an early meeting between the leaders about counterterrorism.

(Additional reporting by Maria Golovnina, Andrew Osborn, William Schomberg, Guy Faulconbridge, Roberta Rampton and Alexei Anishchuk in Enniskillen; Writing by Kate Holton; Editing by Bill Trott)

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Comments (93)
westernshame wrote:
“Obama will try to convince Putin to bring Assad to the negotiating table”

well that should be easy, seeing as Assad has said for a year now he was willing to come to the negotiating table. It is in fact the western backed and funded terrorist rebels who refuse to negotiate.

Assad has already agreed to come to the upcoming proposed peace negotiations, and yet again, the western backed and funded terrorist rebels have refused.

these FACTS have been reported and discussed in the media for months, what possible reason could there be for the US to continue with this blatant lie??

Jun 17, 2013 6:27am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Reuters1945 wrote:
@westernshame

“what possible reason could there be for the US to continue with this blatant lie? ”

Politics has always been a rather dirty game, or “business” if you prefer, involving lying, deception and blatant hypocrisy.

The difference now, it appears, is that world leaders have become so confident, and even smug, regarding the unlimited degrees of power they wield that without the slightest embarrassment they will state that “black is white”, that “down is up” and that “war is peace”. And will do so with a straight face and without so much as batting an eyelash.

Indeed, said so-called “world leaders” are additionally completely confident that those they rule over are too ignorant, too stupid, too lazy and/or too afraid to “call out” said “world leaders” on their lies and countless intentional falsehoods.

There was a time when said leaders at least made a cursory pretense of pretending to respect the will and opinions of those they ruled over but that was then and this is now.

World leaders today expect their collective subjects to accept and believe every last utterance than emanates from their mealy mouthed lips as though it were the Gospel Truth according to whichever Saint you prefer. And if you don’t- you can lump it.

Of course things might very well have been a good deal worse.
Just imagine if Senator John McCain had won The White House.

We would likely have already found ourselves involved in a nuclear war in the Middle East and seen 100,000 American “boots on the ground”.

In short, viewing the situation in Syria from the vantage point of the heights of irony, some might even choose to contend that President Obama is owed a small iota of gratitude for dragging his feet on arming the terrorists as long as he has. At least we are still far from seeing the one million dead and counting that resulted from another President’s invasion of Iraq.

But in the end, in all honesty I must concede it is “six of one and/or half a dozen of the other”.

There is very little our so-called “world leaders” do better than making wars, and burning money by the trillions of dollars, euros and rubles, whilst waving the flag and when the little people complain, and telling them to “eat cake”.

Jun 17, 2013 7:21am EDT  --  Report as abuse
reality-again wrote:
And why should Obama, or anyone else care about Putin?…

Jun 17, 2013 7:47am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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