Putin says discussion of Syria conflict on G-20 menu
AFPST. PETERSBURG/WASHINGTON -- Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Thursday the G-20 would discuss the Syria crisis over dinner, as it seeks to overcome bitter divisions over a U.S.-led push for military action against President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
September 6, 2013, 12:02 am TWN
With pressure mounting on the G-20 group of nations to make concrete progress towards ending the conflict at their summit in St. Petersburg, the United Nations announced that its special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi was on his way to attend the meet to push for peace talks.
Obama arrived in Saint Petersburg from Sweden after clearing the first hurdle in his race to win domestic congressional backing for punitive strikes over the alleged use of chemical weapons by President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved an amended resolution 10-7, with one senator, the chamber's newest member Edward Markey, voting present, that authorizes US military intervention with a 90-day deadline and bars American boots on the ground for combat purposes.
Putin opened the summit by revealing that the Syria crisis would be formally discussed over dinner.
“Some participants have asked me to give the time and possibility to discuss other... very acute topics of international politics, in particular the situation around Syria,” Putin told the opening plenary session of the meeting.
“I suggest we do this during dinner so that we... in the first part can discuss the (economic) problems we had gathered here for and are key for the G-20,” he added.
An Obama aide said he would argue his case for military action against Syria and explore what type of “political and diplomatic support they may express for our efforts to hold Syrian regime accountable.”
Beyond convincing Russia, Obama has a tough sell ahead elsewhere, with China — another veto-wielding Security Council member state — having already expressed its “grave concerns” over unilateral military strikes.
A political solution is the only way to end the Syria crisis, a senior Chinese official said on Thursday, warning world powers to be “highly prudent” over the issue.