ENNISKILLEN, Northern Ireland - Russian President Vladimir
Putin faced further isolation on the second day of a G8 summit on Tuesday as
world leaders lined up to pressure him into toning down his support for Syrian
President Bashar Assad.
Following an icy encounter between the Kremlin
chief and US President Barack Obama late on Monday, the G8 leaders will seek
to find resolution to a war that has prompted powers across the Middle East to
square off on sectarian lines.
The sticking point again will be Putin,
who faced a barrage of criticism from Western leaders for supporting Assad and
the Syrian's president's attempt to crush a 2-year-old uprising in which at
least 93,000 people have been killed.
"It's a clarifying moment to see
what kind of commitments the Russians are willing to make in a leading world
forum," a British official said before the leaders met for dinner at a remote,
heavily guarded golf course outside of Enniskillen.
An official close to
one of the delegations said the talks over dinner had gone better than expected
and that a joint communique with Russia on Syria now seemed more likely.
However, the official declined to speculate on what Russia might be willing to
sign up for.
But if consensus could not be reached, it was possible a
final statement at the end of the two-day summit might be released without
Russia's input and in the name of the G7 rather than the G8.
over Syria dominated the atmosphere as global leaders met in Northern Ireland, a
place once rocked by decades of violence but which Britain now wants to showcase
as a model of conflict resolution.
Putin and Obama appeared tense as they
addressed reporters late on Monday after about two hours of talks, with Putin
mostly staring at the floor as he spoke about Syria and Obama only glancing
occasionally at the Russian leader.
Stung by recent victories for Assad's
forces and their support from Hezbollah guerrillas, the United States said last
week it would step up military aid to the rebels, including automatic weapons,
light mortars and rocket-propelled grenades.
Putin said Moscow and
Washington had different views on Syria but agreed the bloodshed must stop and
that the warring parties should be brought to the negotiating
"With respect to Syria, we do have differing perspectives on the
problem but we share an interest in reducing the violence and securing chemical
weapons and ensuring that they're neither used nor are they subject to
proliferation," Obama said.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, who is
chairing the summit, will on Tuesday seek to move the conversation on to
taxation and how the Group of Eight leading nations can help close international
loopholes in what has become a central theme for the British prime
Cameron has been stung by revelations that the likes of Google
and Starbucks have sharply cut their corporate tax bills in Britain using legal
Last week he sought to turn up the pressure on other rich
economies by pressing Britain's overseas tax havens into a transparency deal and
announcing new disclosure rules for British firms.
Also on the agenda
will be a drive by the British to secure a commitment from all the G8 leaders
that they will no longer pay a ransom to kidnappers as part of an early meeting
between the leaders about counter-terrorism.
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