September 06, 2013
Obama Leads Push for Syrian Strike, as G20 Summit Wraps Up
President Barack Obama is using the final day of the G20 summit in Russia to help win international support for possible U.S. military intervention in Syria.
World leaders remained deeply divided over the Syrian crisis following the first day of the economic summit in Saint Petersburg. Diplomats say a working dinner discussion on Syria lasted well into the night Thursday, with each side reiterating their position.
President Obama is looking to build a global coalition in support of military strikes against the government of President Bashar al-Assad, who the White House believes carried out a chemical weapons attack last month that killed more than 1,400 people.
Russia, Syria's main ally, has led opposition to the U.S. plan. President Vladimir Putin says there is no evidence Mr. Assad carried out the attack. Mr. Obama and Mr. Putin shook hands and smiled for the cameras Thursday, but there were no meetings scheduled between the two leaders for the summit's final day.
President Obama is set to meet Friday with Chinese President Xi Jinping, who opposes the strikes, and French President Francois Hollande, who supports them. The U.S. State Department said this week the White House plan has the support of nine countries, including France, Canada, Turkey and Australia.
President Obama flies back later Friday to Washington, where he is seeking to convince U.S. lawmakers to authorize Syria military action. A key U.S. Senate panel approved the plan Wednesday. But it now faces a tough vote in both houses of Congress, likely next week.
At the U.N. Thursday, where American officials hosted briefings on the events in Syria, U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said Russia is holding the world body hostage and shirking its international responsibilities.
Russia and China both have cast vetoes at the Security Council to defeat Western efforts to hold the Syrian government responsible for the wholesale slaughter of civilians caught up in the conflict.