Syria tops agenda at pre-G8 video-conference
June 15, 2013 by AFP
The conflict in Syria topped the agenda in a video-conference on Friday among G8 leaders ahead of their summit next week, and a day after the US stiffened its Syrian policy, Britain and France said.
US President Barack Obama and the leaders of France, Germany, Britain and Italy spoke via video-link and had “an extensive exchange on the subject of the G8 [summit] and in particular on Syria,” an aide to French President Francois Hollande said.
Friday’s talks took place after the White House said it had concluded that Syria had crossed a US red line by using chemical weapons against rebels battling President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.
Officials said Washington would increase military support to rebels, which it is understood could also include the lethal assistance the United States has previously refused to provide.
The talks, among Obama, Hollande, British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta, lasted nearly an hour, the aide said.
A statement from Cameron’s Downing Street office said the leaders had “discussed the situation in Syria and how G8 countries should all agree to work on together a political transition to end the conflict.”
They also discussed ways to help Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan “entrench democracy and build security” there, the statement added.
Recent incidents in Libya have included a failed car bomb attack Tuesday on Italian diplomats in Tripoli; and clashes in Benghazi last Saturday that killed 31 people and led to the resignation of the country’s army chief.
Zeidan is among a number of leaders who Cameron, host of the Group of Eight summit in Northern Ireland on Monday and Tuesday, has invited to join Tuesday’s talks at the G8 summit.
US deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes described the session as the latest in a series of consultations that Obama has held with allies in the run-up to the summit.