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G20 summit fails to find solution to Syrian crisis, all hopes pinned on Geneva-2

September 06, 2013, 15:03 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara

MOSCOW, September 6 (Itar-Tass) - The G20 summit in St. Petersburg has failed to produce an unambiguous answer to the question of a military operation against Damascus the United States is trying to dictate to the world and of how to put an end to civil war in Syria.

The European Union countries participating in the G20 summit in St. Petersburg on Friday morning held a separate meeting devoted to the Syrian crisis, but failed to achieve mutual understanding, Belgian television channel RTL-TVI said. Only France is prepared to take part in a US-planned military intervention, as before.

According to the television channel, the leaders of Germany, Britain, France, Italy and also the EU institutions merely confirmed once again their readiness to provide humanitarian support for the people of Syria, for instance, to expand programs for aid to refugees from the conflict zone. At the moment the number of people who have had to flee the area of hostilities has exceeded six million. Germany and Italy have emphatically ruled out the possibility of their participation in any combat operations against Syria. As for Britain, after the government’s military plans failed to receive support in parliament, it is prepared to furnish only its political support for the US.

Dmitry Peskov, the press secretary of President Vladimir Putin - the summit’s host - has told ITAR-TASS that G20 is not going to adopt any special document regarding the situation in Syria. No discussion of the Syrian issue is due on the second, last day of the summit, because the agenda is very tight, Peskov explained.

It looks like the hopes of those who had expected the G20 summit would pave the way out of the Syrian crisis have failed to come true. Those hopes are very hypothetical, though, because the summit is geared at addressing world economic issues.

As for Syria, the resumption of the Geneva-2 negotiating process is the sole life line that may save it from air strikes and help settle the situation in that country. The UN Secretary General’s deputy spokesman, Farhan Haq, on Thursday pointed to the need for urgently convening an international peace conference on Syria. “While the world is focused on concerns about the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria, we must push even harder for the International Conference on Syria to take place in Geneva. A political solution is the only way to end the bloodshed in Syria,” he quoted UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon as saying

Farhan Haq said Ban had held talks with US President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the G20 summit. No details of the meeting are available.

It is noteworthy that the US Administration regards the international conference in Geneva as a means of achieving a political settlement in Syria, as follows from what US deputy presidential national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, told the media on Thursday. An important detail to the picture: preparations for a military operation against Syria are in full swing. As for the negotiations in Geneva, the United States sees it only as a means to stop civil war in Syria.

Even despite controversies with such countries as Russia regarding a response to the use of chemical weapons the United States is going to exert political efforts at the conference in Geneva in order to put an end to the civil war in Syria, Rhodes said. He reiterated Washington’s demand Syrian president Bashar Assad must resign, because, Rhodes claimed, a leader who has killed thousands of his fellow citizens will have no legal right to lead the country.

Russian analysts are divided over the chances of success at Geneva-2. State Duma member Vyacheslav Nikonov, a leading expert on US affairs, has told Itar-Tass interview, “If the United States attacks Syria, what Geneva-2 meeting can there be? I have no idea of how the Americans may bomb the country and at the same time conduct negotiations over ending the civil war there?”

Nikonov believes that after the US Congress meets in session on September 11, the events will pick up the pace. According to his forecast, “the House of Representatives is unlikely to vote for Barack Obama’s plan for beginning intervention in Syria. But such a decision may be made by the Senate, which will most probably support the president. Obama has cornered himself. He cannot but bomb Syria. The possibility of success at negotiations over settling the crisis in Syria by peaceful means are slim.”

Deputy chairman of the Russia-USA association, lecturer at the MGIMO University, Sergei Oznobishchev, disagrees. He believes that the Syrian crisis can still be settled by peaceful means. In an interview to ITAR-TASS Oznobishchev said that “at the negotiations in Geneva the participants might agree on using international sanctions, and not cruise missiles against Syria.”

About the discussion on Syria at the G20 summit the expert said this: “Some elements of a compromise have begun to emerge among the European Union, the United States and Russia. Russian politicians, for instance, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, no longer unequivocally support the Bashar Assad regime. Now they are talking about how to restore stability to Syria, how to stop bloodshed there and to ensure peaceful transition of power. This may well become the main theme of Geneva-2 that will narrow differences between opponents.”

Oznobishchev believes that the participants in the discussion over ways of settling the Syrian crisis should stop accusing each other, because the UN commission will certainly fail to produce a clear answer to the question about the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Over the four days UN experts had at their disposal to look for traces of a chemical attack they were certainly unable to find convincing evidence proving the use of war gases.”

One of the leading Russian experts of international affairs, honorary president of the non-governmental Council for the Foreign and Defense Policy, Sergei Karaganov, in an interview to ITAR-TASS presented his vision of the situation.

“At the G20 summit US President Barack Obama found himself in the minority as far as the Syrian problem is concerned. Only France supports his plan for a military operation against Syria. This is a great setback for Obama,” Karaganov said.

On the other hand, “Russian President Vladimir Putin, who had been described as an opponent of humanitarian efforts by the West for resolving the Syrian crisis emerged as the leader of the majority at the G20 summit,” Karaganov said.

In his opinion “the liberals in the United States are pushing Barack Obama towards bloodshed in Syria in order to bury him politically.”

“The US President has the sole opportunity of avoiding the use of force in the Syrian crisis - resolving it diplomatically through talks in Geneva,” Karaganov said.