September 5, 2013 - 16:28 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - U.S. President Barack Obama has arrived at St. Petersburg’s Pulkovo Airport for the G20 Summit, RIA Novosti reports.
His official schedule does not include a meeting with President Vladimir Putin but Putin’s aide Yury Ushakov has not ruled out the two presidents could meet on the sidelines.
Speaking to reporters at the G20, Putin’s spokesperson said that “a separate meeting [between Putin and Obama] is not planned but there will, nonetheless, be some kind of conversations.”
Putin has mentioned some of the issues he intends to raise, should a meeting with Obama take place during the summit, as Syria, North Korea and Iran.
According to Reuters, Obama has already met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who “shared the view that chemical weapons use in Syria was a violation of international law that must be addressed.”
"I ... look forward to an extensive conversation about the situation in Syria and ... our joint recognition that the use of chemical weapons in Syria is not only a tragedy but also a violation of international law that must be addressed," Obama told reporters.
Abe, who has refrained from speaking publicly about Japan's stance on Obama's push for military action against Damascus, said he looked forward to discussing with the U.S. president ways to improve the situation in Syria.
The G20 summit was originally expected to be preceded by a bilateral Putin-Obama meeting in Moscow. However, the discussion was cancelled following heightened tension over Russia’s decision to grant temporary asylum to fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden, despite Washington’s repeated demands for his extradition to the U.S.
Tensions were fueled by the recent developments over Syria.
Obama said Wednesday that he'll continue to make his case to Russia's Vladimir Putin to ease off his support of the Assad regime.
Obama, during a stopover in Sweden en route to Russia for the G20 summit, said that while U.S.-Russian relations have "hit a wall," he's not giving up. He suggested he'd continue to press Putin, as his administration also tries to win the support of Congress for a U.S. military strike on the Assad regime in response to a chemical weapons attack on Aug 21.
"It is not possible for Mr. Assad to regain legitimacy in a country where he's killed tens of thousands of his own people," Obama said. "So far, at least, Mr. Putin has rejected that logic. I'm always hopeful, and I will continue to engage him."
Putin has been among the loudest critics on the international stage of Obama's push for a military strike in Syria. He blasted the push on Wednesday as an "act of aggression." He has said in recent interviews that a strike would be illegal if the United Nations does not support it.
The Russian President called U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry a liar, claiming he had denied that al-Qaeda was fighting with the Syrian opposition in that country's civil war.
Speaking to his human rights council, Putin recalled watching a congressional debate where Kerry was asked about al-Qaeda. Putin said he had denied that it was operating in Syria, even though he was aware of the al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra group.
Putin said: "This was very unpleasant and surprising for me. We talk to them (the Americans) and we assume they are decent people, but he is lying and he knows that he is lying. This is sad."