President Vladimir Putin blocked any mention of the fate of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a final G8 summit communique, said a top Russian official.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland on Tuesday that Russia had insisted no demands for the resignation of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad be included in the G8 final document on the Syrian conflict.
“Apart from being completely unacceptable for Russia, this would be deeply wrong, harmful and would totally destroy the political balance that is being established so painstakingly” to bring the warring sides to the negotiating table, Mr. Ryabkov was quoted by the Itar-Tass news agency as saying.
Earlier, British sources at the summit said Prime Minister David Cameron had sought to isolate Russia suggesting that seven Western members of the G8 could sign a communique calling for the ouster of the Syrian leader if Mr. Putin refused to join in.
“We cannot dictate to participants of the future [Geneva-2] conference… how it is going to end, otherwise it makes no sense to even start it,” said Mr. Ryabkov.
Mr .Ryabkov lashed out at Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who called the Group of Eight “G7 plus one”, meaning that Russia’s positions were too far apart from the other members.
Moscow’s stance on resolving the Syrian crisis was completely in line with other G8 members, said Mr. Ryabkov.
He said progress had been made at the G8 summit toward convening the Syria peace conference, adopting a “comprehensive, serious and concrete document”.