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G20 leaders hold working dinner at Russian palace

Thursday, September 05, 2013 - 00:52

Sept. 5 - The Syrian crisis is top of the agenda at a working dinner for G20 leaders in Russia. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).

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ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: Leaders of 20 developed and developing countries gathered for a working dinner at the famous Peterhof Summer Palace outside St. Petersburg on Thursday on the first day of a summit hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin. After a first working session focussing on growth and financial stability, the leaders were set to discuss the ongoing crisis in Syria during the dinner. They would then attend a show demonstrating the lavish fountains in the gardens of the palace. The civil war in Syria was dominating discussions at the two-day economic summit, as disagreements about a possible military strike on Syria between Russia and the U.S. continued to cause discomfort between world leaders. U.S. President Barack Obama, who arrived late to the dinner, is facing growing pressure from global heads not to launch military strikes in Syria. G20 leaders meeting in St. Petersburg are trying to forge a united front on how to revive economic growth, but failed to heal divisions over a U.S. plan to wind down a program to stimulate the world economy. The club that accounts for two thirds of the world's population and 90 percent of its output looked as divided over therapy for the economy as it is over possible military action following a chemical weapons attack in Syria. Obama wore a stiff smile as he approached Putin on his arrival at the summit and grasped his hand. Putin also wore a businesslike expression and it was only when they turned to pose for photographers that Obama broke into a broader grin. There was no clutching of arms or hugs. The first round at the summit went to Putin, as China, the European Union, the BRICS emerging economies and Pope Francis - in a letter - warned of the dangers of military intervention without the approval of the U.N. Security Council. The BRICS - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - echoed that remark, and the Pope, who leads the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, urged the G20 leaders to "lay aside the futile pursuit of a military solution". European Union leaders described the August 21 attack near Damascus, which killed up to 1,400 people, as "abhorrent" but said: "There is no military solution to the Syrian conflict." Obama is unlikely to be deterred. He said before talks with Japan's prime minister on the sidelines of the summit that the use of chemical arms in Syria was "not only a tragedy but also a violation of international law that must be addressed." Only France, which has already said it is preparing to join U.S. military action, rallied loudly behind Obama.

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G20 leaders hold working dinner at Russian palace

Thursday, September 05, 2013 - 00:52