Obama and Putin agree to push both sides in the Syrian Conflict to talks in Geneva

Putin and Obama agree to push both sides in Syrian conflict to Geneva talks

Get short URL Published time: June 17, 2013 19:45
Edited time: June 17, 2013 21:48

Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Barack Obama have agreed to push the sides of the ongoing Syrian conflict to the negotiating table in Geneva. The leaders made the pledge after a 2 hour meeting at the G8 summit.

“We have agreed to push the sides of the Syrian conflict to come to the negotiating table at the international Geneva conference,” Putin said.

“On some points, we still have a different stance, but we are united by an aspiration to prevent violence, to put an end to the growing number of victims, to solve the problem by peaceful means, including through negotiations at the international conference at Geneva,” the Russian President added.

President Obama conceded that he has a “different perspective” on Syria than his Russian counterpart, but confirmed that both countries have a shared interest in stopping the violence and “securing chemical weapons” in Syria.

“We do have differing perspectives on the problem but we share an interest in reducing the violence, securing chemical weapons and ensuring that they’re neither used nor are they subject to proliferation,” Obama said. “We want to try to resolve the issue through political means if possible.”

In the meantime President Obama is set to announce a further $300 million in new humanitarian aid to Syria, which will bring the total of US aid during the two-year civil war there to over $800 million. A little less than half of the new aid package will go to Syria itself, with the rest being sent to neighboring countries harboring Syrian refugees, the White House said on Monday.

Last week the Obama administration declared that Assad’s government had crossed a red line, claiming new classified evidence of chemical weapons use by government forces. As a result, American officials went on the record supporting the idea of military aid to the Syrian insurgency. Washington was also reviewing the possibility of setting up a no-fly zone in Syria that would extend 40km into its territory and would be, officials told Reuters, used as a safe haven for refugees and a platform to train rebels. Moscow spoke out against the US plan to aid the rebels, saying Kremlin officials were “unconvinced” by the US claim of evidence.

In addition to the discussion of Syria, during their nearly two-hour-long talks the presidents also touched on a number of sensitive issues including Iran, nuclear security and the prevention of nuclear arms proliferation, as well as cyber security and cooperation in fighting terrorism.

“We spoke in detail about strategic security between the two countries and the world in general. I think that we have opportunities to move forward in the most sensitive areas,” Putin said.

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