G8: World leaders appeal to allies of Assad to force the Syrian President to surrender power

Loyalists could have a future in a new Syria if they topple their President

Enniskillen

World leaders appealed to allies of Bashar al-Assad to force the Syrian President to surrender power at the close of their two-day summit in Northern Ireland.

The G8 nations papered over differences between Russia and the West by trying to revive peace talks in Geneva. But Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, stopped short of calling for Assad to go - the view of the seven other leaders.

Crucially, no date was set for peace negotiations, a delay which could give Assad more time to crush opposition fighters in the country's bloody two-year civil war. The G8 summit communiqué said only that negotiations should begin “as soon as possible.” Hopes they would  re-start next month look likely to be dashed and the process could  be delayed until September. One European diplomat said: “Events on the ground over the next four or five weeks will be important.” But British sources insisted the absence of a date was not  a stalling tactic by Russia, and that setting a premature date would end in failure.

The G8 statement called for “agreement on a transitional governing body with full executive powers”, adding: “The public services must be preserved or restored. This includes the military forces and security services.”

The wording was a message to Assad loyalists that they could have a future in a new Syria if they toppled their President. David Cameron, who chaired the summit at Lough Erne, told a press conference: “Those loyal to Assad, who know he has to go but who want stability in their country, they should take note of this point.” He said maintaining Syria's security forces would “learn the lesson” from Iraq, where disbanding the army and police after the 2003 invasion left a vacuum exploited by al-Qa'ida.

British sources claimed that Russia had given ground behind the scenes, wanted a stable Syria  and was not committed to propping up President Assad personally. They denied Mr Cameron had settled for a “lowest common denominator” approach to prevent a “G7 versus Russia” outcome at the summit.

“Our major priority is to help drive this political process. No one wants to see more conflict, no one wants to see more arms, no one wants to see more death,” said Mr Cameron. His words on arms were an apparent retreat from plans to supply them to the Syrian opposition - on which he may not be able to secure a House of Commons majority. He insisted no decision to send arms had been taken. “This is turning up the pace of political change that is needed in Syria…we have to turn these words into action,” he said.

The Prime Minister said:  “I think it is unthinkable that president Assad can play any part in the future government of his country. He has blood on his hands, he's used chemical weapons.”

But Mr Putin laid bare the differences at his own post-summit press conference, when he urged the United States, Britain and France not to  arm the anti-Assad rebels. Controversially, he  cited the terrorist killing of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich to make his case.

The Russian President declared: “Recently the British people suffered a huge loss. It was a tragedy next to his barracks on the streets of London. A violent assassination, a very brutal killing of a British serviceman.

”Clearly the opposition [in Syria] is not composed all of this but many of them are exactly the same as the ones who perpetrated the killing in London. If we equip these people, if we arm them what is going to control and verify who is going to have these weapons, including in Europe as well. So we call all our partners, before making this dangerous step, think about it very carefully.“

The G8 leaders, including Mr Putin, agreed that the United Nations should investigate the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Denying he was  isolated, the Russian President claimed that some of the other eight leaders agreed with him that there was not yet proof the Assad regime had used such weapons.  ”We had disagreements, that is true but I never felt lonely and Russia was never on its own in making a statement on Syria.“

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths surrounding the enigmatic singer
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Home Care Worker - Reading and Surrounding Areas

£9 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a s...

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn