ST. PETERSBURG, September 6 (RIA Novosti, Howard Amos) – US President Barack Obama said Friday that the international community was “stuck” over its response to the crisis in Syria, as the G20 summit hosted by Russia came to an end with no obvious change in the position of the world leaders who oppose unilateral military intervention in the civil war.
There was a “unanimous conclusion that chemical weapons were used in Syria” when the issue was discussed at the G20, Obama told reporters, adding that “the majority of the room [was] comfortable with our conclusion that the [Bashar] Assad government is responsible for their use.”
But despite agreement in some areas, he said the international community was “stuck” over its response to Syria's bloody civil war, reminding his audience of the 1994 Rwandan genocide and the United States’ initial reluctance to take military action against Nazi Germany and against Serbia's use of force in Kosovo in 1999.
The G20 summit, which traditionally focuses on economic issues, has been dominated by the Syrian crisis, and Obama’s attempt to muster international support for a military strike against the Assad government.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has led international opposition to military intervention, has said that US claims that the Syrian regime is responsible for chemical attacks that have killed thousands of civilians are not backed up by evidence and are illogical.
A much-anticipated meeting with Putin took place for about 20 minutes on the sidelines of the plenary session of the summit, Obama said, describing the encounter as a “candid and constructive conversation” primarily about Syria.
Putin later told reporters that the positions of neither man had changed as a result of his talk with Obama or during the G20 summit.
“Where there is a division, it has to do with the United Nations,” Obama said. “There are a number of countries that, just as a matter of principle, believe that if military action is to be taken it needs to go through the UN Security Council.” This is Russia’s staunch position.
The United States has said that working through the UN Security Council on the Syria issue is currently impossible, with Obama on Friday describing “Security Council paralysis.” The US ambassador to the UN, Samantha Powers, earlier said that Russia “continues to hold the council hostage,” Reuters reported.
Russia and China, who wield veto power in the council, as well as senior European officials, have called for the Syria crisis to be resolved through the Security Council. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, on Thursday warned that a strike without a UN mandate would be “another nail in the coffin of international law.”
Obama promised on Friday that the proposed attack on Syria would be “not Iraq, not putting boots on the ground [and] not a drawn-out affair.” He insisted that he was “not itching for a military action.”