G8 seek Syria consensus amid rumors of deadlock
World leaders were close to striking a deal on pushing for peace in Syria at the G8 summit on Tuesday amid conflicting reports that certain leaders clashed on a roadmap to resolve the conflict.
Sources at the Group of 8 conference told Reuters news agency that the leaders disagreed in talks about the nature of a transitional government for Syria.
“You’re close to a seven to one position on Syria and clearly (Vladimir) Putin doesn’t hold back with his views,” the source said, saying a peace conference in Geneva was unlikely to take place in July.
A draft of the communique obtained by AFP news agency left blank a section devoted to Syria, indicating that talks were going down to the wire.
British Prime Minister David Cameron’s spokesman said agreement was possible but that there would be further discussions before the summit wrapped up.
“We believe that the G8 can reach agreement on the approach to take us forward to Geneva 2,” the spokesman said, according to AFP.
Putin and U.S. President Barack Obama made no attempt to conceal their differences after icy face-to-face talks at the Lough Erne golf resort on Monday.
“Of course our opinions do not converge, but all of us have the intention to stop the violence in Syria,” said Putin, while Obama admitted the two men had “different perspectives” on the brutal conflict.
British officials had suggested late Monday that the rest of the G8 could leave Putin out in the cold and press ahead with issuing a statement on Syria without Russia, but a night of haggling by officials appeared to have reached a form of agreement.
But issues such as arms -- Washington said last week it would start sending weapons to the rebels, while Moscow is a strong supporter of President Bashar al-Assad -- were largely left off the table, the officials said.
Chemical weapons were also likely to be a sticking point. The United States, Britain and France all say they have evidence that Assad’s forces have used nerve gas against the Syrian rebels but Russia says there is no proof.
Downing Street said the world leaders meeting at a summit in Northern Ireland would also call on companies to follow their lead in refusing to pay for the release of abductees.
“Leaders agree to stamp out payment of ransoms to terrorists and call on companies to follow their lead,” Cameron’s office said on its Twitter feed.
British officials said Cameron had been keen to push the deal because funds raised by ransom payments were the main source of funding for terror groups, especially those in North Africa.