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

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy 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.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid