Factbox: Where G20 members stand on military action against Syria WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama had mixed results as he lobbied members of the G20 leading world economies to bolster international support for a military response to the Syrian government’s alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians.Here is where members of the G20 stand on intervention in Syria:
AUSTRALIA-Called, in a joint statement with nine other G20 members plus Spain, for „a strong international response.” A senior U.S. official said that statement was an implicit endorsement of use of military power even though it did not say so explicitly.”The position we adopted was correct,” Foreign Minister Bob Carr said, according to the Melbourne Herald Sun.”If the world doesn’t respond in a way that’s appropriate and proportionate, then other dictators will think they can gas children.”
CANADA-Signed the joint statement.”The world cannot wait for endless failed processes that can only lead to increased suffering in Syria and regional instability,” Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said.”We support efforts undertaken by the United States and other countries to reinforce the prohibition on the use of chemical weapons.”
SAUDI ARABIA-Signed the joint statement.”It is time for the international community to assume its responsibilities and to take deterrent measures against the Syrian regime,” Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal told Al Jazeera last week.
UNITED STATES-Obama says there is sufficient evidence to conclude Syria President Bashar al-Assad authorized a chemical weapons attack that killed 1,400 people August 21 and has called for a military retaliation in response. He has put the matter to a vote before the U.S. Congress and is seeking international support before taking any action.U.S. national security adviser Susan Rice drafted a statement endorsing military action against Syria and officials sought endorsements from other members of the G20.
INDIA-Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told fellow G-20 leaders in Russia that India opposes any military action against Syria that is not sanctioned by the U.N. Security Council, Kyodo news reported, citing Indian media.”Whatever happens should be under the U.N.’s auspices and not outside the framework,” Montek Singh Ahluwalia, an aide to Singh, is quoted as saying.Singh told G20 counterparts there needs to be greater certainty about what happened during an alleged chemical weapons attack August 21 and that it is important to await the results of a United Nations investigation.
RUSSIA-Is a staunch ally of Syria and opposes any military action.Russian President Vladimir Putin said „anything that is outside the U.N. Security Council is aggression, except self-defense. Now what Congress and the U.S. Senate are doing in essence is legitimizing aggression. This is inadmissible in principle.”
Agreed to coordinate positions on settling the Syria standoff with Russia, according to an Interfax report.
„Any attack on Syria without (U.N. Security Council) authorization would constitute a grave violation of international law that would severely undermine international order,” the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation said in a statement August 29.
Signed the joint statement.
„Almost all the leaders who attended the summit are closely following the massacre the Syrian regime carried out on its people and the leaders have expressed that an operation is extremely necessary against Damascus,” Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said.
Was among countries that opposed military operations in Syria, Putin told reporters, according to Interfax.
The Argentine Foreign Ministry has condemned any military strike against Syria, saying it would only make matters worse.
Was among countries that opposed military operations in Syria, Putin told reporters, according to Interfax.
Neither signed the joint statement nor was mentioned by Putin as among those opposing military operations.
Signed the joint statement.
French President Francois Hollande has been one of the main international voices calling for military action against Syria over the chemical attack.
„We shall await the report of the inspectors just as we will await (U.S.) Congress,” he said in St. Petersburg.
Only European nation at G20 to decline signing joint statement because Chancellor Angela Merkel wanted to let European Union officials have a chance to weigh in first, according to a senior U.S. administration official.
Merkel has said that Syrian President Bashar-al Assad’s government should not go unpunished over what the United States said was its use of internationally banned chemical weapons on August 21, an attack that killed hundreds of civilians in a Damascus suburb.
But she has not explicitly come out publicly in favor of military action.
ITALY-Signed the joint statement.However, Italy’s Prime Minister Enrico Letta said recently that Italy would not join any military operation against Damascus without authorization from the U.N. Security Council.”If the United Nations doesn’t back it, Italy will not participate,” he said but added that Italy fully backed international condemnation of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.”The international community has to respond strongly to Assad and his regime and to the horrors which have been committed,” he said.
UNITED KINGDOM-Signed the joint statement.British Prime Minister David Cameron lost a vital parliamentary vote last month meant to pave the way for Britain to join a looming military strike against Syria.However, Cameron also said Obama was right to press ahead with possible military action against Damascus as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had ignored his warnings about using chemical weapons.
CHINA-Has backed Russia in opposing military intervention.”Military action would have a negative impact on the global economy, especially on the oil price – it will cause a hike in the oil price,” Chinese Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao told a briefing before the start of the G20 leaders’ talks.
INDONESIA-Was among countries that opposed military operations in Syria, Putin told reporters, according to Interfax.
JAPAN-Signed the statement.Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has shied away from public statements about Syria.But Obama said after meeting with him at the G20 that Japan shared the U.S. view that chemical weapons use in Syria was a violation of international law that must be addressed.
SOUTH KOREA-Signed the statement.
EUROPEAN UNION-Did not sign the statement.”There is no military solution to the Syrian conflict,” European Council President Herman Van Rompuy told reporters. „Only a political solution can end the terrible bloodshed.”Van Rompuy said he respected „calls for action” but said the response to the Syrian crisis had to move through the United Nations.
IOC weighs up major risks in 2020 Olympic voteView gallery STEPHEN WILSON 8 hours ago 2020 Summer OlympicsIstanbulMadridTokyoSyria BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — From the Fukushima nuclear leak to the war in Syria to Europe’s economic crisis, the choice of the host city for the 2020 Olympics is fraught with risks.Picking the site with the least risks shapes up as the challenge for the International Olympic Committee on Saturday in a tight three-city contest that members say is too close to call.”It’s certainly an open race,” South African IOC member Sam Ramsamy said Friday. „They all have positive and negative points. The final presentations will be crucial.”After a two-year global race, Tokyo, Madrid and Istanbul spent their final full day of campaigning Friday to drum up last-minute support in their bid to secure the biggest sports event on the international stage.Tokyo has been seen as a slight favorite, but its status has been put into question by concerns over the leak of radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima plant.Madrid, once counted out because of Spain’s financial troubles, has generated the most recent buzz and momentum and could be poised for an upset win.Istanbul, dogged by the war in neighboring Syria and possible Western military strikes against Bashar Assad’s regime, looks to be the outsider.London bookmakers have been taking a rush of bets on Madrid, whose odds have been slashed from 4-1 a week ago to 5-4. Tokyo remains the betting favorite, though its odds have shortened to 5-6. Istanbul is listed at 6-1.View gallery.”Governor of Tokyo and Chairman of Tokyo 2020, Naoki Inose, attends a news conference in Buenos Aires …”There are all kinds of predictions, all kinds of bets but the only one numbers that matter are the ones from the votes on Saturday afternoon,” Madrid Mayor Ana Botella said.IOC elections are extremely unpredictable as members vote by secret ballot and take different personal reasons into account. Some members are still undecided and will be waiting for the final 45-minute presentations on Saturday before making up their mind.Leading the delegations will be the prime ministers of all three countries. Shinzo Abe of Japan, Mariano Rajoy of Spain and Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey were all flying to Buenos Aires straight from the G20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia.If all IOC members are in attendance, 97 will be eligible to vote in the first round. With a majority required for victory, the process is likely to go two rounds. The city with the fewest votes is eliminated after the first round, setting up a final head-to-head ballot. Outgoing IOC President Jacques Rogge will open a sealed envelope to announce the winner.All three are repeat bidders: Istanbul for a fifth time overall, Madrid for a third straight and Tokyo a second in a row.Previous bid campaigns have been marked by overriding geographic or emotional factors. In 2009, the IOC awarded the 2016 Olympics to Rio de Janeiro because of the Brazilian city’s push to take the games to South America for the first time.There has been no feel-good theme thistime as the campaign has been dominated by the negatives surrounding each bid: Syria, doping scandals and anti-government protests in Turkey; severe recession and 27 percent unemployment in Spain; and, most recently, the Fukushima leak in Japan.”Some of the issues are big and difficult for IOC members: geopolitical, environmental and economic,” Australian IOC member John Coates said.View gallery.”Spain’s Olympic Committee President Alejandro Blanco speaks during a news conference in Buenos Aires …Many members also will be voting with Rio in mind. The Brazilian city has been plagued by construction delays and other issues in its preparations for 2016, leaving members in search of a safe, reliable host for 2020.”With the difficulties in Rio, many people will be thinking, ‘Do we need to be with safe hands or take a few risks?” Coates said.Tokyo has championed itself as the „safe pair of hands” but has been on the defensive this week because of Fukushima. Some IOC members are looking for Abe to deal with the issue directly in Saturday’s presentation.On Friday, Tokyo organizers gave the clearest response so far of the leak.Hiroshi Hase, a former Olympic wrestler and member of the Japanese parliament, minimized the problem with a detailed presentation — a strategy that has been lacking for several days as Japanese officials struggled with the subject.”There is a very limited area where contaminated water is leaking out in the port. … But we will monitor it, remove it and contain it. That is the gist of the strategy,” Hase said.Madrid has gained the most ground in recent months, weeks and days. The turnaround started at the bid city technical presentations in Lausanne, Switzerland, in July, where the Spaniards pressed their case that they offer the safest financial option: 80 percent of the venues ready and only $1.9 billion needed for construction.”There was a buzz about Madrid in Lausanne and I think there may be some continuation from that,” Coates said.View gallery.”Two street dogs sit next to police standing guard in front of the hotel where the International Olym …Madrid also has a star performer in Crown Prince Felipe, a former Olympic sailor and Spain’s flag-bearer at the 1992 Barcelona Games. He wowed the members in his speech in July and will be Madrid’s featured speaker in Saturday’s presentation.”He’s an Olympian, which is always a great advantage,” Coates said. „People have an empathy with someone who is one of theirs.”Istanbul is pitching its case as an „historic choice” for the IOC: the first Olympics in the region, the first in a city linking two continents, the first in a predominantly Muslim nation.”Istanbul 2020 will be held against the backdrop of one of the most magical cities on the planet: A bridge between continents, cultures and generations for thousands of years,” bid leader Hasan Arat said.French IOC member Jean-Claude Killy said delegates may need to put all the current issues aside and look ahead to the situation seven years from now.”You have to project yourself to 2020,” the former skiing star said. „There’s still seven years to get there. What’s going to happen in those seven years in those three cities and those three countries? Who deserves it more, putting aside the problems?”___AP Sports Writers Tales Azzoni and Stephen Wade contributed to this report.___Follow Stephen Wilson on Twitter:http://twitter.com/stevewilsonap
Obama talks with Mexico, Brazil leaders on NSAView galleryJOSH LEDERMAN 10 hours ago Foreign PolicyBarack ObamaDilma RousseffBrazil ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — President Barack Obama said Friday his administration will work with the governments of Brazil and Mexico to resolve tensions over allegations that the U.S. monitored their communications.Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff remained combative, insisting she wants to know „everything” about U.S. surveillance and that spying on a friendly country is incompatible with democratic alliances.Obama met separately with Rousseff and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on the sidelines of an international economic summit in St. Petersburg, Russia.Obama said he assured both leaders he takes very seriously the allegations of spying on their communications by the National Security Agency. He said he promised to address their concerns.Both leaders have expressed outrage over revelations that the NSA kept tabs on their communications. Pena Nieto says it would constitute an illegal act. Rousseff responded by canceling a trip to Washington by a team of aides preparing for her upcoming U.S. visit.View gallery.”US President Barack Obama, center, talks with Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff as he join with othe …Rousseff remained firm as she spoke to reporters at the end of the G-20 summit.”I think is very serious to spy on a democratic country, very serious. I don’t see how someone can defend spying on a democratic country, or spying on the privacy of people,” she said.”I made him (Obama) see that the relationship that we had, based on the fact that we are big democracies in this part of the world, is incompatible with the act of spying.””President Obama told me — and repeated — that he wants to create political conditions for my trip to the United States,” she said. „I want to know everything that they have. Everything.”Brazil’s minister for external relations, Luiz Alberto Figueiredo, is expected to meet with the U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice on Sept. 11 to discuss the matter.
Syria sends reinforcements to Christian villageRYAN LUCAS 12 hours ago SyriaBarack ObamaView gallery BEIRUT (AP) — The Syrian government sent reinforcements, including tanks and armored personnel carriers, to a predominantly Christian village north of Damascus where rebels have battled regime troops this week, a monitoring group said Friday.Opposition fighters led by an al-Qaida-linked rebel faction attacked the ancient mountainside sanctuary of Maaloula on Wednesday, and briefly entered the village a day later before pulling out in the evening. The assault has spotlighted fears among Syria’s religious minorities about the prominent role of Islamic extremists in the rebel ranks fighting to overthrow President Bashar Assad’s regime.The government forces sent to Maaloula have taken up positions outside the village, which is still under the control of local pro-regime militias, said Rami Abdul-Rahman, the director of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. He added that there were skirmishes Friday around the village, home to two of the oldest surviving monasteries in Syria — Mar Sarkis and Mar Takla.The assault is being spearheaded by Jabhat al-Nusra, one of the most effective rebel factions and a group the U.S. has deemed a terrorist organization. The group includes Syrians as well as foreign fighters from across the Muslim world.Rebels from the Western-backed Free Syrian Army also fought regime soldiers around the Christian village, according to the opposition coalition. FSA fighters „destroyed two regime checkpoints in Maaloula” and battled Assad’s troops near the village’s main entrance for two days before withdrawing from the area Thursday, the Turkey-based Syrian National Coalition said in a statement.View gallery.”In this Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013 image taken from video obtained from the Shaam News Network, which …The Syrian government has tried to emphasize the role of foreigners fighting on the rebel side in the civil war as part of its narrative that the Assad regime is battling a foreign-backed conspiracy.In that vein, Syrian state TV said Friday the government is offering 500,000 Syrian pounds ($2,800) for turning in a foreign fighter, and 200,000 pounds ($1,150) for information about their whereabouts or assistance in their capture.Civilians have paid the highest price in the conflict that has killed more than 100,000, displaced more than 4 million within Syria and forced another 2 million to seek shelter in neighboring countries of Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq.”It’s a desperate situation, because behind these huge statistics lies a tragedy for families, for children for women and for men,” U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos said in an interview with The Associated Press in Beirut after two days in Syria.”We worry a lot about those areas where people have effectively been under siege for six, seven, eight months,” Amos said, adding that besieging entire neighborhoods and towns has become part of a military tactic by the warring sides.View gallery.”FILE – In this Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2006 file photo, thousands of Syrians, most of them Christians, …”And when that happens, nothing is able to go in or out,” Amos said. „This is a huge and massive problem, because it’s not just about food, it’s also about people who are injured or wounded and need urgent help, it’s the people who on a regular basis need medical supplies.”As the fighting continued, President Barack Obama’s administration forged ahead in its efforts to win congressional backing for military strikes against Syria over a suspected chemical attack on Aug. 21 outside Damascus. The U.S. accuses the Assad regime of being behind the attack, while Syria blames the rebels.Obama was expected to use the last day of the Group of 20 economic summit in Russia to continue seeking foreign support for armed action. He has had little public success so far, with only France willing to take part in any military response.The prospect of a U.S.-led strike against Syria has raised concerns of potential retaliation from the Assad regime or its allies. The State Department ordered nonessential U.S. diplomats to leave Lebanon over security concerns and urged private American citizens to depart as well.The Shiite militant group Hezbollah, an Assad ally that has sent fighters into Syria, is based in Lebanon.View gallery.”In this Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013 image taken from video obtained from Ugarit News, which has been aut …The G-20 host, Russia, staunchly opposes any Western action against Syria. The Kremlin has continued its decades-long alliance with Damascus throughout the civil war, backing Assad militarily, economically and diplomatically.Russia’s Interfax news agency reported Moscow had three naval ships moving toward Syria in the eastern Mediterranean and another en route from the Black Sea. The privately owned agency said two amphibious landing crafts and a reconnaissance ship have already passed through the Dardanelles, while another landing vessel left the Black Sea port of Sevastopol for the eastern Mediterranean with „special cargo.”Kremlin Chief of Staff Sergei Ivanov said Thursday that Russia is boosting its naval presence in the Mediterranean „primarily” to organize a possible evacuation of Russians from Syria. It is unclear how many ships Russia has there.Reports of increased Russian naval presence near Syria have raised fears about a larger international conflict if the U.S. carries out airstrikes.The Syrian state news agency SANA said the speaker of parliament, Mohammad Jihad Laham, urged the U.S. Congress to engage in a „civilized” dialogue with Damascus rather than resorting to a dialogue of „fire and blood.”View gallery.”In this Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013 image taken from video obtained from Ugarit News, which has been aut …In a letter sent to House Speaker John Boehner, Laham appealed to him and his colleagues „not to rush into any irresponsible, reckless action.”___Associated Press writers Albert Aji in Damascus, Syria, Lynn Berry in Moscow, and Zeina Karam and Barbara Surk in Beirut contributed to this report.
Sept 11 Museum putting hallowed artifacts in placeView gallery MEGHAN BARR 3 hours agoNEW YORK (AP) — Far below the earth where the twin towers once stood, a cavernous museum on hallowed ground is finally nearing completion.Amid the construction machinery and the dust, powerful artifacts of death and destruction have assumed their final resting places inside the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.A vast space that travels down to the bedrock upon which the towers were built, the museum winds its way deeper and deeper underground, taking visitors on a journey to the very bottom.Already on display are several pieces of mangled steel and metal recovered from the World Trade Center towers, each one telling a different story of the terror attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.The first relics that visitors will see are two massive pieces of structural steel that rose from the base of the North Tower. Now the rusty red columns soar above ground into the sunlit glass atrium that encloses the entrance to the museum.View gallery.”A rose is placed next to the name of a victim of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center at …”They’re so large — about 70 feet tall — that we built the museum around them,” explained Joseph Daniels, president of the memorial and museum.Down a long ramp, visitors will peer down to glimpse the last piece of steel removed from ground zero in 2002, which sits inside a gaping silvery chamber that drops to the lowest level of the museum.Further down the ramp, visitors will discover a mangled and twisted piece of steel that Daniels calls „impact steel.” That’s because this piece of the building was actually destroyed by the impact of Flight 11 slamming into the North Tower.”You can see how, at the bottom, the columns are bent back,” Daniels said. „That’s because Flight 11’s nose, when it pierced the building, it bent steel like that.”Perhaps the most chilling part of the museum, in its current form, is a battered staircase that leads down to bedrock, where the exhibits will be displayed. Sandwiched between an escalator and a staircase that will be used by museum visitors, the „survivor’s stairs” provided an escape route for hundreds of people who fled from the towers on Sept. 11, 2001.View gallery.”A rose is placed next to the name of a victim of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center at …”You’re literally following the same pathway that hundreds followed on 9/11 to survival, to safety,” said museum director Alice Greenwald. „In some respects, what we’re saying to our visitors is, we all live in a world now that was defined by this event. And in that sense, we’re all survivors of 9/11.”There are more relics, some of them shrouded in plastic or white drapery, awaiting their public debut:The „flag steel” shaped like a ribbon that resembled a flag blowing in the breeze. The T-shaped steel column and crossbeam that became known as the „World Trade Center cross,” a piece of the rubble that became a symbol of hope to hundreds of recovery workers.The fire truck from Engine Company 21, whose cab was destroyed while the rest of the truck remained intact.When completed in the spring, the museum will transport people through time from events leading to the 9/11 attacks all the way to the current events of today. And even when its doors open, the museum will always remain a work in progress.View gallery.”In this photo taken Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013, the wedge-shaped pavilion entrance of the National Sept …”This is a museum, I like to say, that’s not about answers,” Greenwald said. „It’s a museum about questions. And we end with questions, and we then invite the public to participate in that dialogue.”
Russian warships cross Bosphorus, en route to SyriaView galleryA Russian warship is moored in the Cypriot port of Limassol, on May 17, 2013. Three Russian warships have crossed Turkey’s Bosphorus Strait en route to the eastern Mediterranean, near the Syrian coast, amid concern in the region over potential US-led strikes in response to the Damascus regime’s alleged use of chemical weapons. (AFP Photo/Yiannis Kourtoglou)September 5, 2013 4:13 PM Three Russian warships crossed Turkey’s Bosphorus Strait Thursday en route to the eastern Mediterranean, near the Syrian coast, amid concern in the region over potential US-led strikes in response to the Damascus regime’s alleged use of chemical weapons.The SSV-201 intelligence ship Priazovye, accompanied by the two landing ships Minsk and Novocherkassk passed through the Bosphorus known as the Istanbul strait that separates Asia from Europe, an AFP photographer reported.The Priazovye on Sunday started its voyage from its home port of Sevastopol in Ukraine „to the appointed region of military service in the eastern Mediterranean”, a military official told the Interfax news agency.Russia, a key ally of Damascus, has kept a constant presence of around four warships in the eastern Mediterranean in the Syrian crisis, rotating them every few months. It also has a naval base in the Syrian port of Tartus whose origins date back to Moscow’s close relationship with Damascus under the Soviet Union.Moscow vehemently opposes the US-led plans for military action against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in response to the chemical attack outside Damascus last month.Russian President Vladimir Putin warned on Wednesday that any US Congress approval for a military strike against Syria without UN consensus would represent an „aggression”.