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

    US Internet Giants, EU Reach Deal to Combat Online Hate Speech

    Facebook, Twitter, Google and Microsoft commit to ‘quickly and efficiently’ act to clamp down on use of social media to incite violence, terror

    Video Tunisia’s Ennahda Party Begins a New Political Chapter

    Party now moves to separate its political and religious activities; change described by party members as pragmatic response to political and economic challenges facing Tunisia today

    Virtual Reality Fine-tuned at Asia Tech Show

    Microchip designers hope to improve resolution for users of systems that can turn your bedroom into the ocean floor

    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.
    Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conferencei
    X
    Serginho Roosblad
    May 30, 2016 5:11 PM
    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora