News / Middle East

    Obama Presses Syria Strike at G20 Summit

    President Barack Obama listens as Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during the start of the G-20 Working Session at the Konstantin Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia, Sept. 5, 2013.
    President Barack Obama listens as Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during the start of the G-20 Working Session at the Konstantin Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia, Sept. 5, 2013.
    VOA News
    U.S. President Barack Obama is pressing world leaders at the Group of 20 summit in Russia for backing of a possible U.S. strike on Syria.
     
    Russian President Vladimir Putin announced plans to add Syria to the agenda shortly after summit participants arrived Thursday in St. Petersburg.
     
    In an opening session, Putin said some leaders had asked him to set aside time to discuss "very acute topics of international politics," in particular Syria. He said talks could take place during Thursday's working dinner (approximately 16:00 UTC).
                   
    The Syrian crisis is not on the official agenda for the two-day global economic summit, but Obama and other leaders have been discussing the issue on the sidelines.
     
    The president is seeking broader support, both at home and abroad, for military strikes against Syria's government for allegedly using chemical weapons on its civilians.
     
    Obama commented on Syria as he headed into a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
     
    "I also look forward to having an extensive conversation about the situation in Syria and I think our joint recognition that the use of chemical weapons in Syria is not only a tragedy but a violation of international law that must be addressed," he said.
     
    After the session, White House advisor Ben Rhodes said the two leaders were in agreement that the Syrian crisis demanded a strong international response.
     
    On Wednesday, Putin warned Western strikes without U.N. Security Council approval would be an unacceptable "aggression." But he said he would support a strike if there were "convincing" proof that Damascus used chemical weapons.
     
    White House adviser Ben Rhodes says there are currently no plans for a bilateral meeting between Obama and Putin, but there will be opportunities for "interactions" between the two leaders on the sidelines of the summit.
     
    Rhodes told reporters on Air Force One en route to the summit the United States will continue to present evidence to Russia that the Syrian regime was behind the attack, but will not "entertain implausible theories."
     
    Russia has been a key ally to Syria. Russia says Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem is traveling to Moscow for talks on Monday about the crisis.
     
    Russia and China have already vetoed three U.N. Security Council resolutions that would have punished President Assad's government.
     
    The U.S. hosted a series of briefings at the U.N. Thursday. Afterwards, U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said Russia continues to hold the Security Council hostage on Syria, and shirk [avoid] its international responsibility.
     
    "There is nothing in the pattern of our interactions with our colleagues in the Security Council, our Russian colleagues, that would give us any reason to be optimistic," she said. "And, indeed, we have seen nothing in President Putin’s comments that suggests there is an available path forward at the Security Council."
     
    Speaking before the summit, Chinese Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao said Thursday any military action against Syria would cause a hike in oil prices and have a "negative impact" on the global economy.
     
    Lawmakers in the U.S. Senate could begin debate next week on a measure calling for limited military strikes on Syria. On Wednesday, a key Senate panel approved the plan, which also rules out deploying U.S. ground troops to the country.
     
    U.N. officials continue to look for a political settlement to the conflict.
     
    Officials say U.N.-Arab League envoy on Syria Lakhdar Brahimi is headed to St. Petersburg to help U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon organize a Syrian peace conference.
     
    Also, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will discuss Syria's crisis with European Union and Arab League representatives during a visit to Europe next week.

    • Russia's President Vladimir Putin, center foreground, gestures as he walks by U.S. President Barack Obama, front row second right, as he takes his place at a group photo outside of the Konstantin Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia, Sept. 6, 2013.
    • U.S. President Barack Obama, right, walks with Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel prior to a group photo of G-20 leaders outside of the Konstantin Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia, Sept. 6, 2013. 
    • An image of U.S. President Barack Obama drinking out of a paper cup is shown on a large screen in the media center of a G-20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, Sept. 6, 2013. 
    • British Prime Minister David Cameron speaks during a media conference after a G-20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013.
    • Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) arrives for the family picture event during the G20 summit in St. Petersburg, Sept. 6, 2013.
    • U.S. President Barack Obama walks away after shaking hands with Russia's President Vladimir Putin during arrivals for the G20 Summit at the Konstantin Palace in St. Petersburg, Sept. 5, 2013.
    • U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the G20 Summit in St. Petersburg, Sept. 5, 2013.
    • A man protests possible military action in Syria as the first day of the G20 Summit gets underway in St. Petersburg, Sept. 5, 2013.
    • BRICS leaders' at the G20 Summit in Strelna near St. Petersburg, Sept. 5, 2013.
    • Participants sit at a table during a BRICS leaders' meeting at the G20 Summit in Strelna near St. Petersburg, Sept. 5, 2013.
    • Apples are seen on the ground next to statues across the street from the Constantine Palace, the venue for a G20 meeting in St. Petersburg, Sept. 4, 2013.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: The area from: Phnom Penh
    September 05, 2013 6:27 PM
    I trusted the report from the UN, i support american presidnet but why don't you use seal to catch Assad like you did on bin la den? Air strikes or launch missiles will cos a lots of damages and kill.

    by: Babeouf from: Ireland
    September 05, 2013 10:03 AM
    Today or yesterday the Russian's revealed a report actually claiming to contain evidence that the rebels in Syria used Sarin gas in their attacks. As you will soon see the US population is opposed to the war in Syria that Obama has planed. He does not appeal to them at all. Rather he appeals to their Congressional representative to ignore their electorates and follow his path to destruction. I doubt such a plan will cement democracy in place in the USA.
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    September 05, 2013 4:20 PM
    You couldn't be more wrong. Besides assad crossed a red line longggg ago with the use of conventional weapons anyways. He bombed civilian areas for 2.5 yrs and murdered nearly 100,000 civilians. Long before chemical weapons came in to play assad was implementing crimes against the people of Syria. Many of the Syrian Army are defecting to the FSA to protect their own families, homes, and nation. They refuse to take orders from top dog assad who wishes for them to kill their own people and destroy their nation.

    Majority of North Americans are disgusted in what is going on in Syria. All because assad has not gone and stays to continue murdering the innocent.

    Praise to the Syrian people and the FREE SYRIAN ARMY.

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