Syria crisis: Russia and US no closer

putin Speeches by key leaders at the end of the G20 summit in St Petersburg have laid bare the bitter divisions over possible military action in Syria. Russian President Vladimir Putin restated his opposition to any strike, saying it would destabilise the region. US President Barack Obama said action was necessary in reaction to the use of chemical weapons in Syria. A joint statement from the US and 10 other nations called for a strong international response. The US government accuses President Bashar al-Assad’s forces of killing 1,429 people in a poison-gas attack in the Damascus suburbs on 21 August. Mr Assad has blamed rebels for the attack. China and Russia, which have refused to agree to a UN Security Council resolution against Syria, insist any military action without the UN would be illegal. Mr Putin said the discussions about Syria on Thursday evening had gone on well past midnight. He added that he had had a one-to-one meeting with Mr Obama in which they had discussed Syria. Both men had listened to the other’s position but had not agreed, he said. Mr Putin said he believed a majority of the populations in countries supporting military action were against it. Meanwhile French President Francois Hollande, who has been a firm proponent of intervention, said he would await for a report from UN weapons inspectors before taking a decision on military action. The inspectors’ findings are not due to be made public until the week beginning 15 September – possibly even later.


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