|Obama can’t convince Putin on Syrian regime change||
A joint statement issued after their meeting said simply that the Syrian people should independently and democratically be allowed to decide their own future, but there was no joint call for Assad to stand down, as the White House has been urging, The Guardian reported.
Relations between the U.S. and Russia have been cool for months over several issues, including continued concerns in Moscow over U.S. missile plans for Europe as well as Syria.
The White House has publicly expressed frustration with Russia for its support for Syria, a Cold War ally, and its blocking of tougher United Nations actions against the Syrian government, such as sanctions.
There was little sign of rapprochement at Los Cabos, with Obama describing the discussion as 'candid', diplomatic-speak for disagreement. Their body language was poor too, with no smiles and little eye contact between the two in the short period in which journalists were invited in.
In the joint statement, the two leaders said: “In order to stop the bloodshed in Syria, we call for an immediate cessation of the violence and express full support for the efforts of the UN and Arab states joint special envoy Kofi Annan, including on moving forward on political transition to a democratic pluralist political system that would be implemented by the Syrians themselves in the framework of Syrian sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity.
“We are united in our belief that the Syrian people should have the opportunity to independently and democratically choose their own future.”
Neither leader mentioned Assad by name in their public remarks or in the joint statement issued after their meeting, thus avoiding any express reference to past U.S. demands that Assad step down. There was also no mention of sanctions or a tougher arms embargo.
Obama said that he and Putin had “candid, thoughtful and through conversation” about various issues including Syria.
Without Putin's support, there is almost no chance of tougher UN action. Russia can use its Security Council veto to block any move.
The expression of support for the Annan plan was also hollow, as the UN and others have acknowledged it has so far been a complete failure.
The sense that Putin came out the meeting with more than Obama was enhanced by a comment from a Russian diplomat. Asked if the meeting was important for the Russians, the Russian diplomat said: “Yes, but even more for the Americans.”
Putin has just come out of an election but Obama is facing one, making the U.S. president the more vulnerable of the two.
John McCain, the Republican senator who was a presidential candidate in 2008, was dismissive of the joint statement by Obama and Putin. “I think it was the kind of statement you usually hear when there is no concrete agreement.”
McCain called on Monday for U.S. intervention by creating a safe haven for the rebels and to supply them with arms. He said on CNN.
The White House so far has shown an unwillingness for military intervention comparable to Libya last year and it had been hoping Putin might have helped in peacefully easing Assad from power.
The relationship between the U.S. and Russia is extremely complex, although relations have cooled. Russia stepped in to help the U.S. in Afghanistan by opening up its supply routes to the Americans after Pakistan closed its borders.
Relations have not been helped by a statement by the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney identifying Russia as the biggest single threat to the U.S.
Subscribe to our RSS feed to stay in touch and receive all of TT updates right in your feed reader