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Russia, US agree to push for Syria talks

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-06-18 10:47

LOUGH ERNE, Britain - Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Barack Obama on Monday held face-to-face talks on Syria on the sidelines of the G8 summit in Lough Erne, Britain.

At a press conference after their two-hour talks, the two leaders 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.

"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.

"With respect to Syria, we do have differing perspectives on the problem but we share an interest in reducing the violence and securing chemical weapons and ensuring that they're neither used nor are they subject to proliferation," Obama said.

He said the two leaders had instructed their teams to work on a peace conference about Syria in Geneva.

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.

The G8 summit is taking place at the Lough Erne resort with the launch of formal negotiations on a free trade agreement between the European Union (EU) and the United States.

On the summit's agenda are three key issues: advancing trade; ensuring tax compliance; promoting greater transparency. But Syria crisis also dominates the summit.

The group attending the event is made up of the leaders of the United States, Russia, Japan, Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Canada.

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