US president to seek help from Putin on Syria

Obama to meet face-to-face with staunch Syrian ally at G8 summit.

By REUTERS
June 17, 2013 04:18
1 minute read.
Bashar Assad and Vladimir Putin meet at the Kremlin in Moscow, December 2006.

Assad and Putin 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/FILE)

 
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LOUGH ERNE, Northern Ireland - US President Barack Obama will seek the help on Monday of Russia's Vladimir Putin, Syria's most powerful ally, to bring Bashar Assad to the negotiating table and end a two-year civil war.

At their first private face-to-face meeting in a year, Obama will try to find common ground with Putin on the sidelines of a G8 summit in Northern Ireland after angering the Kremlin by authorizing US military support for the Syrian president's opponents.

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During talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron in London on the eve of the summit, Putin renewed his criticism of the West's position in startling tones, describing Assad's foes as cannibals.

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"I think you will not deny that one does not really need to support the people who not only kill their enemies, but open up their bodies, eat their intestines, in front of the public and cameras," Putin said at a joint news conference with Cameron.

"Are these the people you want to support? Is it them who you want to supply with weapons?"

Cameron conceded London and Moscow remained far apart.



Russia does not buy the West's assertion that Assad's forces have used chemical weapons and crossed a red line in doing so, saying US military support for Syrian rebels would only escalate violence.

Washington said on Saturday it would keep F-16 fighters and Patriot missiles in Jordan at Amman's request, prompting Moscow to bristle at the possibility they could be used to enforce a no-fly zone inside Syria.

Putin's rhetoric has become increasingly anti-Western since he regained the presidency last year but he appeared upbeat in London, stressing several areas of cooperation between Russian and Britain.

At the Lough Erne golf resort in Northern Ireland, Cameron will bring together leaders of the United States, Japan, Canada, Russia, Germany, France and Italy - representing just over half of the $71.7 trillion global economy.

Syria will inevitably dominate the Monday-Tuesday talks but persistent worries about the global economy will also be central to the discussions.

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