G8: Vladimir Putin warns against arming rebels
Russian president Vladimir Putin tonight issued a blunt warning to the West not to arm Syrian rebels who "eat the organs" of their enemies.
Following talks in Downing Street with David Cameron, he said the brutal behaviour of the rebels was inconsistent with the "humanitarian and cultural values" of Europe.
While he strongly defended the supply of arms by Moscow to the "legitimate" government of Syrian president Bashar Assad, he also stressed that he wanted to achieve a diplomatic solution to the crisis.
He said that he believed the G8 summit, starting tomorrow in Lough Erne in Northern Ireland, was the "one of the most appropriate means" to seek an end to the conflict.
At a joint news conference Mr Cameron acknowledged there were "big differences" between them on who was to blame for the conflict but insisted they could be overcome.
Mr Putin, who has made no secret of his opposition to US president Barack Obama's plans to start sending arms to the rebels, was unsparing when he was asked about previous comments by Mr Cameron that those who armed the regime had "the blood of the children of Syria" on their hands.
"The blood is on the hands of both parties.There is always a question as to who is to blame for that. One should hardly back those who kill their enemies and eat their organs," he said, referring to an incident when a rebel fighter was filmed taking a bite out of the liver he had cut from a dead Syrian soldier.
"It is hardly in relation to the humanitarian and cultural values Europe has been professing for centuries."