American president Barack Obama is facing growing pressure from Russia’s president Vladimir Putin not to launch military strikes against Syria.
At the G20 meeting in St Petersburg, discussions continued over a formal dinner at the Peterhof palace. The rift over Syria overshadowed discussions on the world economy.
Meanwhile the Kremlin has rejected accusations Russia gave chemical weapons assistance to Syria.
Sergei Ivanov, Kremlin Chief of Staff, is clearly annoyed: “After I heard the Pentagon Chief said Russia supplied chemical weapons to Syria, then he corrected himself saying it was not chemical weapons, but the means for their development and production. This, I apologise if I lose my temper, is rubbish, sheer rubbish,” he said.
In Lithuania, EU Defence Ministers met on Thursday to try to work out a common stance over Syria.
Catherine Ashton, the EU Chief of Diplomacy, didn’t directly blame President Assad for the chemical attacks of August 4: “I’ve not heard anyone say to me that this hasn’t been a chemical attack. I’ve been talking with different countries, some of them may take different view of who the perpetrator was, but nobody is arguing the question,” she said.
US Secretary John Kerry is due to arrive in Lithuania on Saturday to push for a tougher stance against Assad from his EU counterparts.
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