Cameron and Putin to discuss Syria crisis ahead of G8

 

David Cameron will today meet Russian President Vladimir Putin for 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 in Lough Erne, comes as President Barack Obama is preparing to arm the rebels, saying the US administration was convinced the Syrian regime had 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.

He responded to the recent 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.

However 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.

"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 Qaida," he said in an interview with Sky News's Murnaghan programme.

"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.

"After all, they are trying to defend their communities against appalling attacks, including, let's be clear, chemical weapon attacks. President Assad is now guilty of the most appalling crimes against his people - 90,000 people dead and some of them through the use of appalling chemical weapons."

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.

"I think Parliament should have a say about these things. I can't really go further than that," he said

Liberal Democrat Cabinet minister Danny Alexander indicated that his party was likely to be wary about arming the rebels.

"Speaking personally and as a Liberal Democrat, the test I would apply is, is any proposed action actually going to make a difference? I don't think the case is proven yet," he told Channel 4 News.

"We are going to debate that in the Government over the coming weeks and we will see what conclusion we reach."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
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: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk