World News

Obama, Putin Fail to Resolve Differences on Syria

U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin are still at odds over a potential strike on Syria, after discussing the issue on the sidelines of the G20 economic summit in Russia.

At a Friday news conference, Mr. Obama said his conversation with Mr. Putin was "candid" and "constructive." But he added that he did not believe the talk would change Russia's opposition to any foreign military intervention in Syria.

Mr. Obama is trying to win international support for military action to punish Syria's government for an alleged chemical attack that killed more than 1,400 people in August. The U.S. president said he would address the American people about the issue Tuesday night and continue to work with Congress on a resolution authorizing military action.

The president said most world leaders attending a G20 dinner late Thursday were "comfortable" with the U.S. conclusion that the Syrian government was responsible for the attack. He said the leaders were "unanimous" in believing that international norms against the use of chemical weapons had to be maintained.

However, he said world powers were divided on launching military action without going through the United Nations Security Council.

British Prime Minister David Cameron sided with Mr. Obama, saying there are times it may be necessary to act without approval from the Security Council.

"If we accept that the only way a response can be made to a country that, let's say, was massacring half or more than half its people, if we're saying there can only be a response if the U.N. Security Council votes positively, we are, in fact, contracting out our foreign policy, our morality to the potential of a Russian veto. Now I think that is a very misguided approach."

Mr. Putin said any foreign strike on Syria would be "illegal." He said the chemical attack was a "provocation" by opposition fighters in Syria who are receiving foreign support.

Mr. Putin said leaders from India, Indonesia, South Africa and India were among those who spoke against any military intervention at Thursday's dinner.

The Russian president said he feared that going into Syria would hurt the global economy by raising the price of energy and stifling global economic development.

"In such a difficult time in general for the world economy, to destabilize the situation in the Middle East is counterproductive. That's at a minimum, I will say it very diplomatically."

China and Russia, have voted down Security Council resolutions that would have pressured the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

In a joint statement issued by the White House Friday, the U.S. and 10 other G20 nations called for a strong international response to Syria's "grave violation" of international rules.

The statement says the Security Council has been "paralyzed" for over two years on Syria and the world can not wait for "endless failed processes."

France, which has been a strong supporter of military action against Syria, signaled hesitancy on Friday. At a G20 news conference, President Francois Hollande said his country would await the outcome of a U.N. chemical weapons team report on Syria before deciding on any action.

Mr. Obama returns to Washington Friday where he is seeking to convince U.S. lawmakers to authorize Syria military action.

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon on Friday warned world leaders against what he called "ill-considered" military strikes he said could worsen sectarian tensions in Syria.

Mr. Ban made his comments at a humanitarian meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit. Warning against "further militarization of the conflict," Mr. Ban said military strikes could have "tragic consequences" and lead to further sectarian violence.

The U.S. State Department has issued travel warnings for neighboring Lebanon and Turkey. The U.S. ordered non-emergency personnel and family members to leave embassies in both countries and has also warned U.S. citizens to avoid travel to the countries.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry travels to Europe Friday, where he will continue the administration's efforts to get international support for possible action against Syria. His trip includes talks with Arab League and European Union officials.


Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs