LOS CABOS, Mexico
The expectations of world powers that Russia would change its Syria stance end in frustration, as Obama says Russia does not agree to any plan for al-Assad’s removal. Meanwhile, a Russian ship allegedly carrying attack helicopters destined for Syria has turned back from British waters
Turkish PM Erdoğan (L) meets with US President Obama on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico. The talks focus on the Syrian turmoil, officials say. AA photo
Russia and China
do not agree to any plan for the removal of President Bashar al-Assad from power, but do recognize the danger of an all-out civil war in Syria, U.S. President Barack Obama has said.
However, his statements contradict British Prime Minister David Cameron, who has insisted that Putin shifted his view of al-Assad during the talks with other world leaders at the G-20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico.
Cameron said discussions were now focused on a transition of power in Syria. But Putin immediately seemed to contradict that notion, telling reporters at the end of the summit: “We believe that nobody has the right to decide for other nations who should be brought to power and who should be removed from power.”
As pressure on Russia
fails to yield any breakthrough, a Russian
ship allegedly carrying attack helicopters destined for Syria has turned back from British waters and is believed to be returning home, Foreign Secretary William Hague said June 19.
The vessel, the MV Alaed, had stopped off the Scottish coast after its British insurer said it had withdrawn cover because of the claims that it was carrying arms for President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. “I am pleased that the ship that was reported to be carrying arms to Syria has now turned back apparently towards Russia,” Hague told the British Parliament. Britain’s Foreign Office said it was “aware of a ship carrying a consignment of refurbished Russian-made attack helicopters heading to Syria,” although it did not specify whether it was the Alaed.
Speaking at the summit, Obama conceded that he had failed to make a breakthrough with the leaders of Russia
or China, despite intensive talks. “I wouldn’t suggest that at this point the United States and the rest of the international community are aligned with Russia
in their positions, but I do think they recognize the grave dangers of all-out civil war,” he told reporters.
“There remain differences over sequencing and the shape of how the transition takes place, but it is welcome that President Putin has been explicit that he does not want al-Assad to remain in charge in Syria,” Cameron told reporters. “What we need next is an agreement on a transitional leadership which can move Syria to a democratic future that protects the rights of all its communities,” he added.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Cameron’s statement that Putin does not want al-Assad to remain in power “does not correspond to reality.”
On the ground, Syrian rebels stormed an army barracks in the northwestern province of Latakia overnight, killing at least 20 soldiers, while at least 25 civilians were killed across the country.