Cameron claims credit for seven-point plan on Syria
Russian president Vladimir Putin during a press conference on the second day of the G8 summit venue at Lough Ern yesterday. Photograph: Matt Dunham - WPA Pool /Getty Images
He insisted that President Bashar al-Assad had to go as there was “blood on his hands” leading to a situation where a transitional government could manage Syria’s affairs until a permanent arrangement was agreed. Aid would be stepped up to help those suffering while efforts to establish peace would intensify.
Russian president Vladimir Putin denied he was isolated at the summit on the violence in Syria and stood by his claim that supplying weapons for any one side in the civil war would only lead to more violence. He defended Moscow’s role in the conflict to date and did not rule out further military contacts with the Assad regime.
Mr Cameron stopped short of making a clear call for arming the rebels in Syria, insisting instead it was important that the G8 “send a message” to those involved in the conflict.
“I think it is unthinkable that President Assad can play any part in the future government of his country. He has blood on his hands. He’s used chemical weapons,” Mr Cameron.
“What matters in terms of bringing together this international coalition to back transition is to say: right, now let’s get on with the process of naming people from the regime, from the opposition, who can sit down and talk about a transitional authority that will take power in Syria that will have, as we agreed, full power, including full power over the security services and the armed forces.
“If that can happen that opens the way to a genuine transition to a genuine Syria free from Assad, free from terror. That is what we have agreed to work towards and I think that is an important step forward.”
Mr Putin, speaking at a simultaneous press conference at the resort, was clear that his opposition to arming the rebels stood firm. “The bloodshed has to be stopped and this is what we have called for,” he said. “This can be achieved by political and diplomatic means.
“The view that any weapons provision to the opposition as a resulting measure for chemical weapons can only exacerbate the situation.”
Asked specifically about the range of opinions regarding the war in Syria, Mr Cameron said: “It’s no secret that there were very different views around the G8 table, but we all share a vital interest in bringing this conflict to an end and helping the Syrian people to achieve the change they want. We have achieved a very strong and purposeful statement on Syria that includes things that I wouldn’t have expected two days ago.”
“Every leader around that table knows that words alone won’t stop the suffering. The task now is to turn to that into real action.”