Russian President Vladimir Putin’s G20 statements about Syria's future seem to have made some world leaders rush to false conclusions. David Cameron claimed that Putin explicitly “does not want Assad remaining in charge in Syria.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron has claimed that during the G20 summit, President Putin shifted his position and now wants President Bashar al-Assad out of power in Syria.
"There remain differences over sequencing and the shape of how the transition takes place, but it is welcome that President Putin has been explicit that he does not want Assad remaining in charge in Syria," Cameron told reporters at a news conference in the wake of the G20 summit in Mexico's Los Cabos.
"What we need next is an agreement on a transitional leadership which can move Syria to a democratic future that protects the rights of all its communities," Cameron added.
Cameron’s statement was refuted by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov as “not corresponding to reality.”
During his speech, Putin clearly stated that no nation has a right to decide for another on “who should be brought to power and who should be ousted.”
Reiterating Russia’s firm position on Syria, Putin said that "it is important that after a regime change, if it happens, and it must happen only by constitutional means, peace comes to the country and bloodshed stops."
While many of the Syrian people indeed would like President Assad to go, "this is not the whole Syrian people," Putin said. All conflicting parties in Syria should cease violence and start negotiations “to agree in advance on how they will live together in a single country,” Putin added.
On Monday, on the sidelines of the summit, Putin had a very long meeting with US President Barack Obama. While the leaders did not come out with any groundbreaking statements, after two hours behind closed doors they managed to outline some common ground on the Syrian issue.
The presidents stated that they had agreed that they need to see a “cessation of the violence,” in Syria and that a “political process has to be created to prevent civil war.” There was no mention of any tougher sanctions on Syria or a reiteration of demands that Assad should step down at that point.
However, on Tuesday, the two states have divided in opinion once again. Speaking at the summit, Obama clearly ruled out any possibility of Assad staying in power in Syria, as he has “lost all legitimacy” in Washington's view. Obama confirmed that despite the intensive talks, neither Russia nor China have agreed to any plan that includes the removal of Assad from power.
“It’s my personal belief, and I’ve shared this with them, is that I don’t see a scenario in which Assad stays and violence is reduced,” he said. “But I do think they recognize the grave dangers of all-out civil war."