G-20 summit to press Russia on Syrian crisis
LOS CABOS, Mexico
Two Russian navy ships sail to the Tartus base to protect Russian citizens there. AFP photoWorld leaders, led by the United States were expected to press Russia to change its support for the Syrian regime as they gathered for the G-20 meeting in Mexico’s Los Cabos city yesterday.
The G-20 summit, hosted by Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon, began yesterday and will last two days with several of the powers present also holding important bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the event.
Among those was U.S. President Barack Obama’s keenly anticipated meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, the pair’s first meeting as presidents. Obama sees his “reset” of relations with Russia as a key achievement, despite Putin’s often strident anti-Western rhetoric, but the two leaders remain far apart on many issues, in particular the conflict in Syria. Their meeting is expected to focus on escalating violence in Syria and the near-collapse of a United Nations-brokered peace plan.
Russia and China has previously twice vetoed the U.N. Security Council resolutions against the Syrian regime. World powers could not persuade Moscow and Beijing to agree on a resolution to take action over the Syria crisis.
Yesterday’s meeting comes at a time when Russia calls for an international conference to discuss Syria violence, with a condition — including Iran, another ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
Turkish PM Erdoğan to meet Obama and Putin
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said any broad international talks on Syria must include Iran and must only address ways to create conditions for a political dialogue in Syria, not the content of that dialogue or preconditions such as al-Assad’s exit.
Turkey will also be present at the G-20 summit and has voiced its concerns over the escalation of conflict seen in its neighbor as it hosts over 28,000 Syrians fleeing from the clashes in their country.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was set to hold separate talks with Putin and Obama on the sidelines of the G-20 summit meeting in Los Cabos. The Erdoğan-Putin meeting was set to take place yesterday and the Turkish prime minister is scheduled to meet with Obama today. The meetings are expected to center around international developments including the Syria crisis.
Before the critical meeting between two world powers in Mexico, two Russian navy ships are completing preparations to sail to Syria with a unit of marines on a mission to protect Russian citizens and the nation’s base there, a news report said. The Interfax news agency quoted an unidentified Russian navy official as saying that the two amphibious landing vessels, Nikolai Filchenkov and Caesar Kunikov, will be heading shortly to the Syrian port of Tartus.
The official said the ships will carry an unspecified number of marines to protect Russians in Syria and evacuate some equipment from Tartus if necessary. Interfax said each of the ships is capable of carrying 150 marines and a dozen tanks.
It also quoted a deputy Russian air force chief as saying that Russia will give the necessary protection to its citizens in Syria.
“We must protect our citizens,” Maj.-Gen. Vladimir Gradusov was quoted by Interfax as saying. “We won’t abandon the Russians and evacuate them from the conflict zone if necessary.” Asked whether the air force would provide air support for the navy squadron, Gradusov said they will act on orders.