UPDATE 5-Russia's Putin torpedoes G8 efforts to oust Assad

Tue Jun 18, 2013 3:42pm EDT
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* Tough Syria talks with Putin dominate G8 summit

* Putin defiant, weighs arms sales to Syria

* Obama, Putin spar over Syria

* G8 calls for political solution, avoids mention of Assad (Recasts, adds new elements, context)

By Andrew Osborn and Maria Golovnina

ENNISKILLEN, Northern Ireland, June 18 (Reuters) - Russia's Vladimir Putin derailed Barack Obama's efforts to win backing for the downfall of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad at a G8 summit on Tuesday, warning the West that arms supplied to the rebels could be used for attacks on European soil.

After two days of intense talks that fell far short of what Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron had been hoping for, Putin fumed against Western moves to supply weapons to rebels while defending his own supplies of arms for Assad.

"We are supplying weapons under legal contracts to the legal government. That is the government of President Assad. And if we are going to sign such contracts, we are going to deliver," the Russian president said.

Putin, isolated at the summit, repeatedly clashed with other leaders over the fate of Assad and resisted pressure to agree to anything that would imply Assad should step down. In the end, a G8 communique did not even mention Assad's name.   Continued...