Syria: Cameron and Putin In Talks Ahead Of G8

David Cameron and Russian President Vladimir Putin have held talks on the Syrian crisis amid fears that differences between Moscow and the West are pushing the two sides towards a new Cold War.
The meeting, on the eve of the G8 summit, came as President Barack Obama is preparing to arm the rebels, saying the US administration is convinced the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons against its own people.
Mr Putin has made no secret of his opposition to any move by the West to supply arms to the Syrian opposition.
After the meeting at 10 Downing Street, Mr Putin joined Mr Cameron in giving a press conference at which they both emphasised the importance of working together.
Mr Cameron admitted that he and Mr Putin had had their "disagreements" but said they he was certain that they could "overcome those disagreements".
He said all the countries which have an interest in what is happening in Syria must do "everything we can to bring this conflict to an end."
When Mr Putin was asked whether it was hypocritical to talk about resolving the war when he had been accused of backing the Assad regime, he said both sides in the conflict had blood on their hands.
Mr Putin said: "We hope that we will be able to work together in the future. There are still international issues and Syria is one of them.
"We have common ... desires and I agree with the Prime Minister that it (solving Syria's problems) should be done as quickly as possible.
"The G8 will be a positive influence on the conflict."
Mr Putin had recently responded to the lifting of the EU arms embargo by reaffirming his intention to supply President Bashar al Assad with sophisticated anti-aircraft missiles in order to deter "hotheads" from intervening in the conflict.
The Russian president has also reacted sceptically to evidence produced by Britain, France and the US that the regime has used chemical weapons - crossing Mr Obama's "red line" for intervention.
Mr Cameron has welcomed Mr Obama's announcement, although he has yet to decide whether to follow the president's lead on supplying arms to the rebels.
In an interview with Sky News, he said Britain would continue to offer non-lethal support to what he called the "genuine" opposition - saying it was vital to bolster the democratic elements against the extremists.
He told Dermot Murnaghan: "Yes there are elements of the Syrian opposition that are deeply unsavoury, that are very dangerous, very extremist and I want nothing to do with them.
"I'd like them driven out of Syria - they're linked to al Qaeda.
"But there are elements of the Syrian opposition who want to see a free democratic, pluralistic Syria that respects the rights of minorities including Christians and we should be working with them - we are working with them.
"If we don't work with those elements of the Syrian opposition, then we can't be surprised if the only elements of the Syrian opposition that are getting, that are actually making any progress in Syria, are the ones that we don't approve of.
Even if Mr Cameron were to decide that Britain should start supplying arms, he may find his path blocked in the face of strong opposition in Parliament across all three main parties.
The Prime Minister again reaffirmed the commitment wrung out of him by Tory rebels that he would give MPs a vote if he decided Britain should go ahead and arm the Syrian opposition.
Finding a political path out of Syria's bloody conflict is likely to be at the forefront of world leaders' minds at the G8 summit.
The meeting of leaders of the world's foremost economic nations takes place in Loch Erne, County Fermanagh, on Monday and Tuesday.
Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the US and the UK will be represented.


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