News / Europe

Syria Splits Gathering of World’s Most Powerful Leaders

A general view of the roundtable meeting at the G-20 summit at the Constantine Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia, Sept. 5, 2013.
A general view of the roundtable meeting at the G-20 summit at the Constantine Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia, Sept. 5, 2013.
James Brooke
U.S. President Barack Obama arrived in Russia Thursday for the annual meeting of the Group of 20. But he will not have a one-on-one meeting with the summit host, Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The issue dividing the two presidents is Syria.

Indeed, the summit - usually an economic affair - is dividing down the middle over Washington’s threat of air strikes against Syria’s military for its apparent use of poison gas against civilians.

Zhu Guangyao, China’s deputy finance minister, voiced concern about a possible spike in world oil prices, should there be a military strike against Syria.

“Military action would have a negative impact on the global economy, especially on the oil price - it will cause a hike in the oil price,” he said. This year, China is expected to displace the United States as the world’s largest net oil importer.
Russia is a close ally of China - and of Syria.

At the conference, Russian officials repeatedly cast doubt on American charges that Syria’s government gassed its own people, killing more than 1,400.

President Putin’s spokesman Dmitri Peskov led the attack at a news conference, denouncing allegations that Syria’s government gassed civilians as “not trustworthy.”

"We cannot accept the proof which, from our point of view, is not proof at all and that is far from being convincing," he added.

In contrast, the European Union’s top two officials harshly criticized Syria’s government for the gas attack of two weeks ago.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said, “The situation remains a stain on the world’s conscience.”

Standing next to him, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy went a step further.

“Information from a wide variety of sources seems to indicate the Syrian regime is responsible for these attacks,” said Von Rompuy, who is from the Netherlands. He said that, according to information presented by several EU member states, “the Syrian regime is the only one that possesses chemical weapons and the means for their delivery in sufficient quantities” to have carried out the attack.

Both men said the only solution for Syria is a political one.

Click to enlargeClick to enlarge
x
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
​Stronger talk came from France, a nation that administered Syria from 1918 until 1943.

"The position of France is to punish - and negotiate," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told French Television 2. "We are convinced that if there is no punishment for Assad, there will be no negotiation.”

When French President Francois Hollande rolled up to Constantine Palace for the G-20 meeting, he greeted President Putin with a thin-lipped smile.

When President Obama stepped out of his limousine, he had a wider smile for Putin. But off camera, aides for both leaders pointedly noted that no one-on-one meeting is on the agenda. Before leaving Stockholm for Russia Thursday,  Putin told reporters that the U.S. has “hit a wall” in its relationship with Russia.

Obama is to meet in St. Petersburg with the leaders of France, China and Japan.
The leaders gathered here represent 80 percent of the world’s economy. Several participants regret that Syria is overshadowing economic issues.

Maggie Murphy of Transparency International came to St. Petersburg to push for anti-corruption measures.

She said, “No doubt that the leaders need to take the opportunities and discuss other vital issues, but we are concerned there is a lot of progress that could be lost.”

The five leaders of the BRICS group - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - agreed to contribute $100 billion to a joint currency reserve pool. These leaders worry that Washington will raise interest rates, drawing money to the United States. This would slow growth and weaken currencies in the developing world.

At opening ceremonies, President Putin reminded the leaders that they were gathered around one table to boost global economic growth. He then asked conference participants to save discussion of Syria until dinner.

  • 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.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: maura lei from: honolulu
September 06, 2013 10:17 PM
little consolation for our lack of political voice during the last five years, but nonetheless, a WH petition that isn't growing fast enough: "NO TO WAR IN SYRIA." go sign it.

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/no-war-syria/QcTV4m0F

by: ali baba from: new york
September 05, 2013 5:37 PM
It is not our business to intervene in Syria conflict. attacking Syria is a big favor for terrorist organization whom fighting Bashar El Assad. we just replace a dictator with organization want impose Islamic law and cleanse of Shia and Christian. if they are successful, Syria will be another Afghanistan .We should . not listen for their reason to kill our people and bankrupt the country
In Response

by: mambo vipi from: tanzania
September 06, 2013 3:40 AM
Arab nations will cover the whole cost when US.attack Syria,this shows that US. is now a hitman and common sense should tell us that these arab nations are responsible for chemical weapons used in Syria.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs