Cameron and Putin to discuss Syria crisis ahead of G8
Sunday 16 June 2013
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."
- 1 Which country would be hardest to invade?
- 2 The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
- 4 Floyd Mayweather's mouthguard costs $25,000 - enough to fly to Las Vegas and back 18 times
- 5 Royal baby girl born: Duchess of Cambridge's second child will be a princess thanks to Queen
Which country would be hardest to invade?
Morgan Freeman on the riot-focused coverage of the Baltimore protests: 'F**k the media'
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
Nepal earthquake: Many survivors receiving no help despite relief effort
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
Indonesia executions live: 'Hysterical' families heard prisoners being shot dead by firing squad
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
EU exit would hit UK economy much harder than neighbouring countries, study finds
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...
£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...
£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...
£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...