24/Apr/2014 - Last News Update: 22:00

EU to press Putin on Syria at summit

Category: Headlines

Published: 4th Jun 2012 03:46:19

EU officials are expected to press Russian President Vladimir Putin to take a stronger line on Syria during a summit in St Petersburg.

EU nations want Russia to put pressure on its ally to withdraw heavy weapons from cities and comply fully with envoy Kofi Annan's peace plan.

Russia and China are also resisting US and EU calls to condemn President Bashar al-Assad and seek his removal.

On Sunday, Mr Assad denied his forces had any role in the Houla massacre.

He told parliament that "foreign meddling" was to blame for Syria's divisions.

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton are among those attending Monday's summit.

On Sunday, Mr Putin hosted the EU leaders for dinner ahead of the talks at a lavish estate on the outskirts of the city.

European diplomats regard the meeting as a chance to renew ties with Mr Putin since his return to the presidency.

The leaders are also expected to discuss trade and Iran's controversial nuclear programme. Russia will also be looking to speed up moves towards visa free travel in Europe.

But correspondents say Syria is likely to dominate the agenda.

"We need to make sure that Russia is using fully its leverage in convincing the [Assad] regime to implement [the peace plan]," an EU official quoted by Reuters said.

"The Russian side has certainly not been very helpful in finding solutions in terms of a political way out."

Moscow insists it is not protecting Mr Assad but says his removal cannot be a precondition for political dialogue.

Baroness Ashton, who met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov before Sunday's dinner, said in a statement: "Russia's role is crucial for the success of Annan's plan."

She said the EU wanted to "work closely with Russia to find a way to end the violence".

The statement added that Baroness Ashton had spoken to Kofi Annan by phone on Sunday and they had agreed that the crisis was at "a critical point".

Analysts say pressure is growing on Moscow to concede that the peace plan is stalled and to promote a compromise in which President Assad stands down to allow a transition of power.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Sunday that she had "made it very clear" to Mr Lavrov in a phone call that the focus was shifting to a political transition.

"Assad's departure does not have to be a precondition but it should be an outcome, so the people of Syria have a chance to express themselves," she said during a visit to Stockholm.

The BBC's Steve Rosenberg in Moscow says that although the summit is not expected to produce any major breakthrough in relations between Russia and the EU, it is still important.

EU leaders will be able to reacquainted themselves with Vladimir Putin and it is also a chance to gauge what kind of relationship Moscow and Brussels are likely to have during his six-year presidency, our correspondent adds.

In a televised address, President Assad told parliament that the killings in Houla were an "ugly crime" that even "monsters" would not carry out.

More than 100 people, many of them children, died in the attack overnight between 25 and 26 May, most knifed or shot at close range.

The massacre has triggered international condemnation and led to several countries expelling Syrian diplomats in protest.

Mr Assad reiterated that the only way to resolve the crisis was through political dialogue.

Mr Annan, envoy for the UN and Arab League, has expressed frustration that Mr Assad was not turning his words into actions.

The UN currently has a team of observers in Syria trying to monitor a ceasefire, but violence has continued across the country.

Source:
BBC News External Link Show Citation

Latest News

Harvard Citation

BBC News, 2012. EU to press Putin on Syria at summit [Online] (Updated 4th Jun 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1432618/EU-to-press-Putin-on-Syria-at-summit [Accessed 24th Apr 2014]

News In Other Categories

  • Amazon revenue up but offset by increasing expenses

    Internet retailer Amazon reported a 32% jump in profits to $108m (£64m) in the first quarter of 2014.
  • Amazon revenue up but offset by increasing expenses

    Internet retailer Amazon reported a 32% jump in profits to $108m (£64m) in the first quarter of 2014.
  • Teenager cut free from child's swing at Rhyl park

    A 15 year-old girl has been cut free after becoming trapped in a children's swing in a park in Denbighshire.
  • IIHF World Championship: Great Britain beat Netherlands in Vilnius

    Great Britain beat the Netherlands 4-3 in their latest World Championship Division 1 Group B  outing in Vilnius.
  • Bristol Academy extends reach overseas with first foreign students

    With the doors to its brand new £1million training centre officially open, one of the UK's leading apprentice training providers, Bristol based S&B Automotive Academy, is showcasing its world-class facilities by launching a series of foreign student exchanges for the first time in its 41-year history. To get a flavour of what life is like as an apprentice in the UK, the Academy hosted 16 apprentice engineers and bus drivers from the G9 Automotive College in Hamburg, Germany, as part of a Europe-wide vocational training initiative called the ‘Leonardo Programme’ with support from the European Social Fund. In a reciprocal arrangement, S&B will be sending nine apprentices to Germany during February 2012 so that they can get an appreciation of life in the automotive industry on the Continent. A further three German exchange groups are being planned for next year. Designed to assist the development of vocational skills and training across Europe, including work placements for trainees, the Leonardo Programme has a budget of €1.75bn, which is helping to encourage UK organisations to work with their counterparts abroad. In what is expected to be another challenging year for employers in the UK automotive sector, S&B’s Chief Executive, Jon Winter, claims that the exchange initiative will bring many benefits to the Academy and its apprentices: “In a world of global automotive brands, it’s important for our learners to understand the international context of the industry they have chosen to make their career. This new exchange programme will enable apprentices and Academy staff alike to achieve a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the automotive arena in Europe. With the Academy’s influence also extending to the USA and Asia, there’s every possibility that this initiative could move further afield in the future.” Continued Winter: “The need for skilled technicians across the world is on the increase and we actively encourage our apprentices to look at broader horizons during their training. Many of them have already learned the phrase ‘Vorsprung durch Gelehrtheit’, quite simply, ‘Advancement through learning.” In the 2010/11 academic year, S&B doubled the number of successful Apprenticeships over the previous year with some 350 apprentices graduating from the Academy. At the same time, achievement levels reached an all-time high with an overall success rate of 85%. For those learners on the Advanced Apprenticeship three-year programme, success rates were even higher, at over 98%. PHOTO CAPTION: As part of their exchange visit, S&B Automotive Academy arranged for the German apprentices to visit Hampshire bus operator, Bluestar, at its Barton Park depot. The students are pictured with S&B’s Andy West (3rd right) and Steve Prewett, Bluestar’s Area Engineering Manager (2nd right). Ends http://www.sandbaa.com
  • Peter Jackson changes third Hobbit film title

    Director Peter Jackson has changed the title of the final film in his Hobbit trilogy from There and Back Again to The Battle of the Five Armies.