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 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Game of Thrones season 5 trailer: The first full-length look is here
Mia Khalifa: Pornhub star claims Drake sent her 'cringeworthy' naked photos on Instagram
Boris Johnson claims porn-obsessed Islamic jihadists are 'literally w*****s'
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Putin opponent reveals Russian President's daughter's secret identity
Ball pool for adults opens in London
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
King Abdullah dead: We can't afford not to hold Saudi Arabia's royals to account
Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - HIGHEST QUALITY INTERNATIONAL FIRM - A...
Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - EXCELLENT FIRM - We have an outstandin...
Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: IN-HOUSE - NATIONAL CHARITY - An exciting and...
Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - A great new opportunity with real pot...