Putin attacks US as Syria throws shadow over summit
Published 17/06/2013 | 05:00
Talks between the two leaders ahead of the G8 summit in Co Fermanagh, which begins today, got off to the worst possible start when Mr Putin refused to stop providing arms to Assad.
Mr Cameron had planned for the focus of the Lough Erne summit to be the global economy, and said he hoped the gathering would deliver agreements to "drive growth and prosperity all over the world".
But Syria threatens to overshadow the scheduled discussions on trade, tax and transparency, after US President Barack Obama announced he was ready to start supplying weapons to the rebels seeking to overthrow President Assad.
And yesterday Mr Putin strongly rebuked Mr Cameron and president Obama for aiding the rebels who are fighting the Syrian leader.
Mr Cameron admitted he and Mr Putin "don't see eye to eye on everything" and had a "serious and honest discussion". However, a spokesman for Mr Putin later said the two leaders have "lots of very serious differences" over the situation in Syria.
Mr Putin attacked Mr Cameron's continued support for the rebels after he was asked whether he has "the blood of Syrian children on his hands", a reference to comments previously made by the prime minister.
Mr Putin also said the West would want to arm Syrian rebels who he said ate human organs, adding that plans to give them weapons contradicted basic human values.
Mr Cameron last year told the UN that the "blood of these young children is a terrible stain on the reputation" of those who aided Mr Assad.
Speaking in Downing Street, Mr Putin warned that the "blood is on the hands of both parties" and said deeds carried out by the rebels went against the "cultural values of Europe".
He added: "If we speak calmly in cold blood, in a business-like fashion, let me draw your attention to the fact Russia supplies arms to the government of Syria in compliance with the norms of international law."
Mr Obama has said he wants to step up aid for the rebels because he has "high confidence" that Mr Assad's forces have used chemical weapons to kill up to 150 people.
However, Mr Putin's spokesman said the American announcement will make it much "harder" for an agreement to be reached with Russia at the G8. (© Daily Telegraph, London)