SLIGO, IRELAND — Emerging from a two hour meeting at the G8 summit, President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed that the bloodshed in Syria must stop and that there should be a renewed push for negotiations.
They also stated the obvious: their positions on Syria differ greatly.
“Our opinions do not coincide,” Putin said, in a tense photo-op with Obama following their first meeting in a year.
“All of us have the intention to stop the violence in Syria, to stop the growth of victims and to solve the situation peacefully, including by bringing the parties to the negotiating table in Geneva,” he said.
Russia continues to arm Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and Putin does not agree that his longtime ally must step down from power for a political settlement to be successful.
After declaring that Assad had crossed the “red line” and used chemical weapons against his own people, the White House announced last week that the U.S. would ramp up support for the political and military opposition.
“We do have differing perspectives on the problem,” Obama said, in a carefully-worded statement, “but we share an interest in reducing the violence, securing chemical weapons and ensuring that they’re neither used nor are they subject to proliferation; and that we want to try to resolve the issue through political means, if possible.”
“We have instructed our teams to continue to work on the potential of a Geneva follow-up to the first meeting,” he said.