Syria pressure on Putin yields no breakthrough
LOS CABOS, Mexico
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (L) shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a bilateral meeting in Los Cabos, Mexico. AP photoTurkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed Syria’s future in a meeting that took place during the G-20 event in Mexico on June 18, as part of efforts to change Russia’s Syria stance.
The Turkish prime minister told members of the press that the meeting had resulted in both leaders instructing their foreign ministers to work in unity. “Our meeting focused on what may be done in the future on Syria,” Erdoğan said.
“Right now, tonight, we gave our foreign ministers clear instructions. They will be working together from now on.” He added that the final policies on Syria would be better shaped once he had met with U.S. President Barack Obama. Erdoğan was scheduled to meet with Obama late yesterday. Before meeting with Erdoğan, Putin met with Obama and agreed that the violence in Syria had to end, but the two offered no new solutions and showed no signs of healing a rift over whether to impose tougher sanctions on Damascus.
Mood to brief UN
“We agreed that we need to see a cessation of the violence, that a political process has to be created to prevent civil war,” Obama told reporters after the talks, which went on for some two hours - longer than originally planned.
“From my point of view, we have found many common points on this issue,” Putin said, adding that the two sides would continue their discussions. The meeting between Obama and Putin also touched on missile defense, arms reduction, and trade.
Obama said the two leaders agreed on the need for a diplomatic solution to Iran’s nuclear standoff with the West. They have also agreed to continue dialogue on missile defense. Putin also met with British Prime Minister David Cameron and discussed an array of pressing international issues, including the situation in Syria and the Iranian nuclear program.
The talks came as government troops shelled the northern Damascus suburb of Douma, killing five people, and pounded the Qalamun district of the province, a watchdog said, adding that at least 14 people had been killed across Syria yesterday. The mission’s leader Major General Robert Mood, whose 300 unarmed monitors suspended operations last weekend because of the escalating bloodshed, was scheduled to brief the U.N. Security Council.
War games denied
Meanwhile, an adviser to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has denied an Iranian media report that Syria would host Russian, Chinese and Iranian military forces for joint exercises, the Russian news agency Interfax reported. An Iranian news agency, Fars, reported that 90,000 troops and hundreds of ships, tanks and warplanes from the four countries would soon be taking part in the war games on land and sea in Syria.