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Syria set to dominate G8 Summit

World leaders gather in Northern Ireland for annual gathering which will also focus on measures to kick-start global growth

US President Barack Obama, his wife Michelle (second right) are greeted by Joan Christie, The Queen's official representative upon arrival in Belfast to attend the G8 summit in Enniskillen

International tensions over Syria looked set to dominate the G8 summit in Northern Ireland as world leaders flew in for an annual gathering which will also focus on measures to kick-start global growth.

Prime Minister David Cameron was holding private talks today with Barack Obama - who has said he may send weapons to opposition forces seeking to oust Syria’s Bashar Assad - before the US president meets his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, Assad’s most powerful international backer.

The dramatic gulf between Russia and the West over Syria was laid bare in talks between Mr Cameron and Mr Putin at Downing Street yesterday, when the Russian president warned the international community to be wary of arming militants who “eat the organs” of their enemies.

Mr Cameron said this morning he was “as worried as anyone” about terrorist and extremist elements in the opposition forces, but insisted it was right to engage with the Syrian crisis and seek to put pressure on both sides to attend peace talks to discuss a transitional government for the country.

He stressed that no decision has yet been taken for the UK to supply arms to the rebels, and repeated his promise that he “would not stand in the way” of the House of Commons voting on any such issue.

London mayor Boris Johnson warned today against arming the rebels, saying that British weapons could end up in the hands of “al Qaida-affiliated thugs”.  But Foreign Secretary William Hague said Britain must protect the Syrian opposition from being “exterminated”, warning that the crisis was “on a trajectory to get worse”.

 

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