World powers remain divided over Syrian action at G20

President Barack Obama listens at let as Russian President Vladimir Putin, far right, speaks during the start of the G-20 Working Session at the Konstantin Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia, Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013. Photo: Associated Press
At G20 summit, world leaders pressure Obama not to launch military strikes in Syria. G20 leaders remain divided over the Syrian conflict as they enter the final day of their Russian summit.

World powers on Thursday discussed the Syria crisis over dinner at the G20 summit but failed to bridge their deeply entrenched divisions over a US push for military action against President Bashar al-Assad\’s regime.

The first day of the summit on Thursday was overshadowed by the conflict, as President Barack Obama tried to garner international support for the military campaign amid Russian opposition.
"The G20 has just now finished the dinner session at which the divisions about Syria were confirmed," Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta, who attended the dinner, said in a comment on his official Twitter feed.
Obama blames forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for the August 21 poison gas attack in the Damascus suburbs that killed up to 1,400 people.
Russia, an ally of Syria, has led the opposition to US-led military action against the Syrian regime over a chemical attack on August 21 outside Damascus, which Washington says was perpetrated by the government forces.
Beyond convincing Russia, Obama has a tough sell ahead elsewhere. China – another veto-wielding Security Council member – has already expressed its "grave concerns" over unilateral military strikes.
A political solution is the only way to end the Syria crisis, a senior Chinese official said on Thursday, warning world powers to be "highly prudent".
"War cannot solve the problem in Syria," Chinese delegation spokesman Qin Gang told reporters at the G20.
The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, later told the leaders at the summit that any military action must have the Security Council\’s backing.
"Let us remember: every day that we lose is a day when scores of innocent civilians die," his office quoted him as saying. "There is no military solution."
Pope Francis added his voice to the calls for a peaceful solution, warning against the "futile pursuit of a military solution".
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has repeatedly ruled out her country\’s participation in any US-led military strike against Assad\’s regime, while the British parliament has also rejected the idea.
EU president Herman van Rompuy said while the Damascus chemical attack was “a crime against humanity” there was "no military solution to the Syrian conflict".
However, France has said it was ready to support US intervention.
Moscow says Obama has not proven that claim and says rebel forces may have carried it out.
Meanwhile, the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, said London had fresh evidence of chemical weapons use.
Cameron has been supportive of US plans for military action against the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, but failed to win approval of the British parliament to authorise British participation.
In a new bid for a peaceful solution for Syria, the UN announced that its special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi would attend meetings at the two-day summit to push for peace talks.
Russia meanwhile, said Syria\’s Foreign Minister Walid Muallem would travel to Moscow on Monday, as Obama seeks to convince US lawmakers to approve military action.
Friday marks the last day of the two-day summit, where most of the headlines have concerned the U.S. effort to rally international support for a military strike on Syria.
Source: Agencies
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