Russian President Vladimir Putin clashed with other world leaders over the civil war in Syria at a tense G8 summit, blocking any mention of the fate of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad from a final communique to be issued on Tuesday.
Isolated at the G8, Putin resisted attempts by other world leaders including US President Barack Obama to get him to agree to anything that would imply Assad should step down or that Russia should tone down its support for Assad.
Western powers tried to hash out a statement with teeth on Syria that all G8 leaders could agree on, though sources indicated that Putin resisted.
The G8 is likely to issue a statement but it was unclear what it would contain.
“You’re close to a seven to one position on Syria and clearly Putin doesn’t hold back with his views,” a source familiar with the talks said.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, speaking on the summit sidelines, said Russia had refused to accept any mention of Assad’s fate in the communique.
“This would be not just unacceptable for the Russian side, but we are convinced that it would be utterly wrong, harmful and would completely upset the political balance,” Ryabkov said.