News / USA

Syria, Surveillance Issues Await Obama at G8, Berlin

Kent Klein
President Barack Obama leaves early Monday for the Group of Eight summit in Northern Ireland and a visit to Berlin.  The conflict in Syria and U.S. surveillance policies will be among the main topics of discussion.

While the G8 is normally considered an economic summit, this year’s gathering at a resort in Northern Ireland will address the bloodshed in Syria…and whether eight of the world’s most influential countries can stop it.  

Russian President Vladimir Putin is the only G8 leader who supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.  He is seen as the key to any G8 agreement on Syria, according to Scheherazade Rehman, the director of Europe studies at George Washington University.

“Putin loves this kind of stuff," Rehman said. "He is the center of attention at this particular juncture.  He knows that, without him, no peace deal can be brokered with Assad.”

Presidents Obama and Putin will meet separately at the G8, and Syria will likely be the main topic there, too, says James Goldgeier, Dean of the American University School of International Service.

“[The] best that probably could be hoped for is, again, a push for an international conference, at which the different parties in the Syrian conflict would actually attend," said Goldgeier. "And whether or not they can achieve that, or whether or not events on the ground are preventing that from happening, remains to be seen.”

However, Goldgeier believes the U.S. and Russian presidents can work together on some other issues. “They both have a strong interest in counterterrorism.  I think both sides have an interest in seeing that Iran does not develop nuclear weapons.  They have an interest in trying to defuse the situation on the Korean Peninsula,” he added.

The Lough Erne Golf Resort Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, June 13, 2013.The Lough Erne Golf Resort Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, June 13, 2013.
x
The Lough Erne Golf Resort Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, June 13, 2013.
The Lough Erne Golf Resort Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, June 13, 2013.
While in Northern Ireland, Obama also wants to push forward talks toward a major U.S.-European Union free trade agreement, which could boost jobs and growth by eliminating tariffs and other barriers.

The president is likely to be confronted with the issue of U.S. government surveillance, both at the summit and when he meets with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin later in the week.

Rehman said the issue might complicate their meeting. “NSA had put that program in place to spy on Middle East intelligence.  It has now since come out that this has been in Europe and particularly Germany as well," he noted. "And the German public are in a bit of an uproar about this.  Rightly so, because they believe that the U.S. is infringing on basic civil rights, not only in the U.S., but it is extending to Western Europe now.”

Obama also will speak at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate, near where he addressed an estimated 200,000 people during his 2008 presidential campaign.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regreti
X
Zana Omer
March 28, 2015 1:19 AM
Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Virginia Tavern Takes Patrons Back to Medieval Times

European martial arts are not widely practiced and are unknown by most people. A tavern in Old Town Alexandria, outside Washington, wants to change this by promoting these fighting techniques from medieval times. Through combining visual arts, martial arts and culinary arts, this tavern brings medieval history back to life. VOA's Yang Lin and Helen Wu report.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More