U.S. President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Monday made a joint call for ending all violence in unrest-hit Syria, and pledged to work together with the international community in resolving the ongoing crisis in the Middle East nation.
"In order to to stop the the bloodshed in Syria, we call for an immediate cessation of the violence and express full support for the efforts of the U.N. 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," the leaders said in a joint statement.
"We are united in our belief that the Syrian people should have the opportunity to independently and democratically choose their own future," they added.
The two leaders made the joint call after a two-hour meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico. It was incidentally the first meeting between the two after Putin returned to the Presidency. Notably, the two nations have been at loggerheads over each others plans for resolving the Syrian crisis.
After Monday's meeting, Obama told reporters at a joint news conference with Putin that the two nations had agreed to work with "other international actors, including the United Nations, Kofi Annan, and all interested parties" to resolve the Syrian crisis.
Putin, on his part, said he and Obama had found "many common points" on Syria during their talks. Nevertheless, it is reported that that the two leaders failed to agree on the fate of embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as well as the U.N. sanctions and tougher arms embargo the West wants to impose on Syria.
Although both Russia and the U.S. are opposed to an international military intervention in Syria, Russia has objected to Washington's frequent calls for President Assad to step down as part of a widely-accepted political transition process aimed at ending the unrest.
Russia, along with China, has been resisting efforts by the Western nations to punish the Syrian regime at the United Nations over its brutal repression. The two nations remain opposed to any foreign military intervention for bringing a forced regime change, and insist on a political dialogue between President Assad and his opponents to resolve the crisis.
China and Russia had vetoed a resolution endorsing an Arab League plan for Syria at the U.N. Security Council on February 4. The two nations also jointly vetoed a Western resolution condemning repression in Syria in October.
Moreover, Russia continues to supply military equipment to the Assad regime despite calls by Western nations to impose a U.N. arms embargo on Syria. Russia has a naval base in Syria, and fears that it could loose a stronghold in the Middle East region if the Syrian regime is toppled.
According to the U.N., more than 10,000 people have been killed in Syria since a popular uprising against President Assad began in March 2011. The Opposition claims that the actual death toll is much higher. Notably, the Assad government continues to blame "armed terrorist gangs" backed by Islamists and foreign mercenaries for the violence.
by RTT Staff Writer
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