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G8 discusses situation in Syria

June 18, 2013, 10:17 UTC+3

G8 leaders are ready to make the air space over that country a no-fly zone

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The G8 summit opened in Northern Ireland on Monday. The situation in Syria became the focal point of the summit. Newspapers mark that yesterday’s conference on that issue found itself under the threat of failure.

A separate problem, the discussion of which will most likely take much time, is a political crisis in Syria, the Novye Izvestia writes. G8 leaders are ready to make the air space over that country a no-fly zone. Russia, which is displeased with the fact that the US continues supplying weapons to rebels, is against that. Moscow either does not believe that Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad uses chemical weapons. Washington is sure he does. It became clear during negotiations on Monday that the holding of a Geneva-2 conference, where the mediator countries intended to bring to the negotiating table representatives of al-Assad and the opposition, practically runs the risk of failure. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said Russia “will not be sending any invitations” to that conference.

The Syrian crisis was discussed during a working lunch, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. David Cameron offered to open up a discussion on that issue to Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama, as the presidents of the countries that had initiated the Geneva-2 international conference on Syria.

Syria was in the focus of attention at Sunday talks of Putin and Cameron in London. At a news conference they gave different assessments of the Syrian developments. In particular, the British prime minister said Bashar al-Assad is responsible for the bloodshed in Syria. Putin replied that “blood is on the hands of both sides” in the Syrian conflict, and warned the West against supporting Syrian rebels “who don’t only kill their enemies, but also cut open their bodies and eat their internal organs before the eyes of the public and under the cameras”.

Yesterday both the British prime minister and the Russian president met with US President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the summit, the newspaper stresses. “Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama must pay special attention to Syria,” the director of the Institute for US and Canadian Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Sergei Rogov, said. “In May the heads of the foreign policy agencies Sergei Lavrov and John Kerry announced the initiative to hold an international conference on Syria, but by the time of the G8 summit the differences between Russia and the US on the Syrian issue visibly increased. Obama’s administration decision to begin supplies of weapons to insurgents seriously aggravates the situation,” he said.

At the same time, according to Rogov, neither Moscow nor Washington seeks to aggravate relations. “I think attempts will be made at the summit on both sides to find points of coincidence,” the expert said. “This concerns not only Syria, but also the missile defense problem. Under favorable circumstances, the presidents of Russia and the US may reach a decision to begin formal talks on that issue, as practically these negotiations are not maintained. From time to time there is an exchange of opinions on missile defense, but it looks more like a dialogue of the deaf. Besides, one can expect the decision of the presidents to encourage the development of trade and economic relations,” he added.

The deputy director of the Institute for European Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Alexei Gromyko, is more pessimistic about the talks in Lough Erne. “Putin will not agree to reverse the approach to the Syrian crisis,” he told the newspaper. “Prospects for Geneva-2 are getting increasingly vague. If there will be a choice between the failure of the conference and concessions to the regime of Assad, it appears that the West, to say nothing about monarchies of the Persian Gulf, will prefer the failure,” he said.

Contrary to the existing tradition to grant free visas to all members of the delegations, including the press, as a gesture of hospitality, Great Britain collected the money in full for the English and Irish visas from everybody, the Komsomolskaya Pravda writes. Moreover, a scandal emerged on the very first day at the press centre of the summit, when the organizers demanded from each reporter 150 pounds for services. The Japanese delegation was the first to resent, saying that during the previous summit in Japan all were served for free and this is one of the principles of G8 activity. As a result, all Japanese journalists refused to go to Lough Erne, staying at the press centre in Belfast, while Britons made no more attempts on Monday to collect money from reporters.

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