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Putin Rebuffs Obama on Possible Syria Strike

Russian President Vladimir Putin says he is still at odds with U.S. President Barack Obama on the need to strike Syria.

In a Friday news conference, Mr. Putin said he and Mr. Obama had a 20-minute-long discussion on Syria and other issues on the sidelines of the G20 economic summit in St. Petersburg.

Mr. Putin says any foreign military strike on Syria in response to the regime's alleged chemical weapons attack last month would be "illegal." He said the attack was a "provocation" by opposition fighters in Syria who are receiving foreign support.

The Russian leader said world powers discussed Syria's crisis late into the night on Thursday. He said leaders from India, Indonesia, South Africa and India were among those who spoke against any military intervention.

President Obama is trying to win international support for military action to punish Syria's government for the alleged attack. The U.S. says more than 1,000 people died in the incident.

Mr. Obama also met Friday with Chinese President Xi Jinping, who opposes the strikes.

China, along with Syria's main ally, Russia, have voted down Security Council resolutions that would have pressured the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Mr. Obama was also speaking at a news conference Friday before leaving the summit in St. Petersburg and returning 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.

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 secretary-general also raised Syria's crisis during talks with leaders from France, Germany and Turkey.

The U.S. State Department has issued traveling warning 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, on 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.


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