Syria Crisis To Dominate Talks At The G8 Summit

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The Syrian conflict is expected to be top of the agenda as leaders of the G8 nations meet in Northern Ireland.

Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet US President Barack Obama during the two-day annual summit for what could be prickly talks, as both leaders now offer military support to opposing sides in the war.

Germany, France, Japan, Italy and Canada will be represented in the summit starting on Monday at the luxury lake-fringed Lough Erne golf resort in County Fermanagh.

The British Prime Minister David Cameron, the host of the  meeting of the top eight industrialised powers, insisted he could overcome his differences with Putin after they held pre-summit talks in London.

Russia remains a staunch supporter of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the two-year-conflict that has left more than 94,000 people dead, amid growing Western efforts to arm the rebels, and despite world powers mostly against the Syrian regime.

In London, Putin insisted that Moscow had abided by international law when supplying weapons to Assad’s regime and demanded that Western countries contemplating arming the opposition do the same.

“We are not breaching any rules and norms and we call on all our partners to act in the same fashion,” Putin said.

The Russian leader referred to a video released last month purportedly showing a rebel Syrian fighter eating the heart of a dead soldier.

He asked if the West really wanted to support rebels “who not only kill their enemies but open up their bodies and eat their internal organs in front of the public and the cameras”.

But Cameron said: “What I take from our conversation today is that we can overcome these differences if we recognise that we share some fundamental aims: to end the conflict, to stop Syria breaking apart, to let the Syrian people decide who governs them and to take the fight to the extremists and defeat them.”

Obama in his meeting with Putin will emphasise that Washington wants to keep alive a mooted Geneva peace summit co-organised with Moscow.

The summit is surrounded by the biggest security operation in Northern Ireland’s troubled history, with around 8,000 officers on duty.

Heavily armed police in armoured Land Rovers are stationed at frequent intervals along the country roads leading to the summit venue near the town of Enniskillen.

Police expect about 2,000 protesters to take part in an anti-G8 march in Ennisksay the expected anti-globalisation demonstrations have been smaller than expected so far.

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