Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
News, June 2013
G8 Summit Presses Syrian Regime and Opposition to Join Talks, Decides One and a Half Billion Dollars in Humanitarian Aid to Syria
G8 summit concludes, leaders sign joint statement
BEIJING, June 19, 2013 (Xinhuanet) --
The two-day G8 summit in Northern Ireland has concluded, with leaders from eight of the world’s wealthiest countries signing a joint statement. British Prime Minister David Cameron announced the communique.
Talking about the Syrian conflict, Cameron said the G8 leaders are determined to work together to stop the bloodshed and loss of life in Syria. He said leaders want to hold the Geneva conference on Syria as soon as possible. The leaders condemn the use of chemical weapons in Syria, and call on all parties to allow access a UN investigation team.
Cameron also said G8 leaders are calling on Syrian authorities and the opposition to commit to destroying and expelling from Syria all organisations affiliated with Al-Qaeda. However, the G8 communique has no reference to Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad stepping down.
G8 members compare notes on Syria at summit
LOUGH ERNE, United Kingdom, June 18, 2013 (Xinhua) --
The G8 summit closed here on Tuesday amid consensuses, compromises and differences over various issues, in particular the Syria crisis this time.
Whatsoever, all the G8 members hoped the Syria issue could be solved, and British Prime Minister David Cameron, the host of this summit, called on all parties to implement their consensus to help Syria end its domestic conflict.
COMPROMISE ON SYRIA ISSUE
After the two-day summit in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland, Cameron announced the G8 leaders have reached consensus over pushing the related peace talks on the Syria issue and will press Syria's conflicting sides to join the talks as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, the group has decided to add 1.5 billion U.S. dollars of humanitarian aid to the war-plagued country.
G8 members condemned the use of chemical weapons in Syria by any sides and agreed to help Syria get rid of terrorists and extremists through cooperation.
They support a new international conference on Syria and back establishing a transitional governing body in Syria to govern the country as agreed last year in Geneva, Switzerland.
However, this latest G8 position, or consensus, did not mention Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's fate as well as the offer of weapons to the Syrian opposition. It neutrally condemned any side's use of chemical weapons. This showed the U.S.and its six G8 allies failed to reach broad consensus on the issue with Russia.
Avoiding any decisions on these issues was a comprise as Russia pressed.
The G8 consensus stressed its common goal of ending violence in Syria, agreed to bring the conflicting sides in Syria into peace talks with the "maximum diplomatic pressure", and recognized the existence of terrorist and extremist forces in Syria.
This shows that G8 has recognized the importance of a political and diplomatic solution to the current Syria crisis and the Western lineup on the Syria issue was being shaken.
In view of U.S. and European countries' compromise, Russia has to announce its stance on the power handover in Syria. This G8 consensus reaffirmed that the next step is to establish a transitional governing body to realize power change in Syria, with the operation of major institutions in Syria guaranteed to avoid any "power vacuum". That means that a significant number of officials might remain.
RUSSIA VS SEVEN?
G8 groups the United States, Russia, France, Japan, Britain, Italy, France and Germany. Before G8 announced its consensus, some Western leaders and media heavily campaigned and mounted pressure on Russia.
Before the summit at Louge Erne, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said that G8 actually was a Seven Plus ONE group because Russia is a sole country that backs the Assad government, adding he did not expected that the summit could reach any consensus on the Syria issue.
Most British media predicted that the U.S. and European countries will focus their attacks on Russia.
British newspaper The Times carried an article on its frontpage on Tuesday, entitled "Cameron leads West to ambush Putin on Syria", trying to "shame" Russia with Syria's lasting domestic conflict and press Russia to sign up to "a post-Assad Syria".
Last week, the White House said it had "strong evidence" that Assad's troops used Sarin poison gas against rebel forces, killing hundreds of people. It said that the U.S. would provide direct military aid to the Syrian opposition for the first time.
However, the claim of Putin's "lonely dilemma" did not work. At the summit, countries like the U.S. and Britain did not demonstrate the "strong position" that some people had expected.
Putin and U.S. President Barack Obama discussed the issue of Syria at a Monday evening meeting and a working dinner later. They admitted they had big differences on Syria, but they agreed to push for a summit in Geneva, Switzerland.
"Our positions do not fully coincide, but we are united by the common intention to end the violence, to stop the number of victims increasing in Syria, to resolve the problems by peaceful means, including the Geneva talks," said Putin at a joint press conference with Obama.
"We agreed to push the process of peace talks and encourage the parties to sit down at the negotiation table, organize the talks in Geneva," he said.
The United States announced it would begin arming Syria's opposition forces because it has proof chemical weapons were used against the rebels. But Russia has dismissed the claims, saying they're based on flimsy evidence.
After the summit, Putin said that Russia was not "lonely" on the Syria issue, adding that many other G8 members also believed that the U.S. lacked strong evidence that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons and had worries about the offer of weapons to the Syrian opposition.
Cameron described Monday evening's discussions on Syria as "encouraging".
At a press conference held Tuesday afternoon, Harper also changed his previous stance, describing Russia's move as "a very important step" and saying all G8 members have reached consensus.
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