LOUGH ERNE (Northern Ireland), June 18 (RIA Novosti) - Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Barack Obama admitted Monday they disagreed on how to respond to the civil war in Syria but said they are both committed to ending the violence that has ravaged the country over the past two years.
“With respect to Syria, we do have differing perspectives on the problem, but we share an interest in reducing the violence; securing chemical weapons and ensuring that they're neither used nor are they subject to proliferation; and that we want to try to resolve the issue through political means, if possible,” Obama said in comments released by the White House on Monday.
Putin offered a similar assessment.
“Our opinions do not yet coincide,” Putin told reporters after his talks with Obama.
“But we are united in our intention to end the violence, end the rise of innocent victims in Syria, (and) resolve the problem through peaceful means,” Putin said, adding that he and Obama had agreed to “push” the two sides to the negotiating table in Geneva.
Discussions about the Syrian conflict were widely expected to take center stage at the meeting between the two leaders on the sidelines of the G8 Summit in Northern Ireland.
The United States has vowed to step up its support for the Syrian opposition, including military aid, in the wake of fresh US claims that Syrian government forces have used chemical weapons multiple times during the conflict.
Russia has repeatedly maintained that outside interference in the conflict could lead to extremist elements seizing power in Syria and has pushed back against Western countries’ demands that Syrian President Bashar Assad must step down in order for a political resolution to the conflict to proceed.