UK's Cameron wants Syria peace plan, with or without Russia

Mon Jun 17, 2013 5:05pm EDT
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By Andrew Osborn

ENNISKILLEN, Northern Ireland, June 17 (Reuters) - Prime Minister David Cameron wants Russian President Vladimir Putin to sign up to what he hopes will become an international peace plan to end the conflict in Syria but may have to press ahead without him, British officials said on Monday.

Cameron was planning to gauge Putin's views over a dinner at the G8 summit in Northern Ireland that officials described as "a potential clarifying moment" where he hoped to find consensus among global leaders on five specific issues.

"It's a clarifying moment to see what kind of commitments the Russians are willing to make in a leading world forum," said one official before the dinner.

But if consensus couldn't be reached it was possible a final statement at the end of the two-day summit might be released without Russia's input and in the name of the G7 rather than the G8, officials indicated.

Cameron hopes the statement will pave the way for a Syrian peace conference in Geneva that will agree the details of how a transition government can assume the powers of President Bashar al-Assad's administration.

"There has to be a statement that we can all sign up to or one that some can't," the same official said.

The West had repeatedly clashed with Russia over how best to end the conflict in Syria with Moscow thwarting attempts to condemn Assad in the United Nations while selling weapons to his army.

U.S. President Barack Obama sparred with Russia's Vladimir Putin over how to end the fighting on Monday during an icy encounter at the summit where divisions over the conflict eclipsed the rest of the agenda.   Continued...