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Obama and Putin discuss Syria conflict

Meeting on G8 summit's sidelines in Northern Ireland, US and Russian leaders acknowledge their "different perspectives".

Last Modified: 17 Jun 2013 23:06
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Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Barack Obama have discussed the Syrian conflict in a meeting on the sidelines of the G8 summit in Northern Ireland.

The leaders of Russia and the US openly back rival sides in the country's two-year civil war with Russia under criticism from G8 leaders for backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

"Our positions do not fully coincide, but we are united by the common intention to end the violence and to stop the number of victims increasing in Syria," Putin said.

"We agreed to push the process of peace talks and encourage the parties to sit down at the negotiation table, organise the talks in Geneva."

Obama conceded that they have a "different perspective" on Syria, but they have a shared interest in stopping the violence and securing chemical weapons in the country.

Both leaders looked tense and uncomfortable as they addressed reporters after about two hours of talks, with Putin staring mostly at the floor as he spoke about Syria and Obama only glancing occasionally at the Russian leader.

The G8 summit of leading industrial nations kicked off in Northern Ireland with Western leaders raising pressure on Russia over its support for Syria's regime.

Earlier David Cameron, UK prime minister, welcomed the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the US on Monday, and said there was "a big difference" between the positions of Russia and the West on Syria.

Western leaders have criticised Putin for supporting Assad in his battle to crush a two-year-old uprising, setting the stage for what could be a difficult meeting of world leaders over Monday and Tuesday.

Russia said it would not permit no-fly zones to be imposed over Syria.

Earlier in London, Putin insisted that Russia had abided by international law when supplying weapons to Assad's regime and demanded that Western countries contemplating arming the opposition do the same.

"We are not breaching any rules and norms and we call on all our partners to act in the same fashion," Putin said.

He referred to a video released last month purportedly showing a rebel Syrian fighter eating the heart of a dead soldier.

He asked if the West really wanted to support rebels "who not only kill their enemies but open up their bodies and eat their internal organs in front of the public and the cameras".

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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