Obama, Putin meeting on Syria at G-20 summit?

posted at 2:01 pm on September 5, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

After Russia granted asylum to Edward Snowden, Barack Obama canceled a Moscow summit meeting with Vladimir Putin, choosing to visit Stockholm instead on the eve of the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg. After a friendly greeting on Obama’s arrival, though, Putin wants a dinner meeting to focus not on economics but on the crisis in Syria, and ABC reports that an ad-hoc Syria summit appears to be on:

President Obama and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin greeted each other with smiles and a handshake at the G20 summit today and planned to take up a subject that is not on the group’s agenda – Syria.

Putin suggested that the crisis and the U.S. threat to attack Syria be debated over dinner this evening.

“Some of the participants asked me to allot some time for the discussion of other issues which weren’t part of our agenda but which are extremely important in the global policy. I’m referring to the situation in Syria. Let’s do that during our working dinner so that we do not discuss all the issues at once,” Putin said.

US News reports that the White House is not denying it, and indeed leaving that open as a possibility:

The focus of world leaders gathered in St. Petersburg, Russia for the G-20 summit is supposed to be global economic issues, but the debate over how to respond to the alleged chemical weapon use in Syria is dominating the headlines.

President Barack Obama is not scheduled to meet with host Russian President Vladimir Putin since Russia agreed to harbor U.S. national security leaker Edward Snowden weeks ago. But Obama administration officials say there may be some opportunity for Putin, who remains unconvinced Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime executed the Sarin gas attack that left more than 1,400 dead, and Obama to informally discuss the issue.

“The past practice at these summits is you do end up having discussions on the margins of the meeting about other global security issues,” said Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, told reporters in a press briefing. “I certainly anticipate the president will have interactions with President Putin even as we don’t have a formal meeting scheduled.”

It’s unclear, though, whether this is a bilateral or multilateral meeting.  Neither would appear to give any benefit to Obama’s case for action against Syria, but a bilateral meeting might help dial down the tension in the US-Russian relationship at the moment.  Over the last few weeks, the two presidents have publicly traded remarkably personal criticisms, and regardless of policy differences, that’s a bad development.

If the dinner meeting on Syria is multilateral with the whole G-20, that looks like a diplomatic trap for Obama.  Only France has offered any support for military action on Syria, while the UK’s David Cameron failed to get his Parliament to go along last week.  He’s likely to find himself outnumbered, and pressured into postponing any action and/or taking his case to the UN.  If he agrees and backs off, then Obama looks weak.  If he ignores US allies (and Putin, but that’s already a given) and pushes forward, then he looks like the kind of unilateral cowboy that he claimed George W. Bush was and gives Putin a boost among Western nations.  This is precisely why heads of state and/or government typically don’t meet on issues until a broad agreement has already been pre-arranged.

At least Obama got this good photo op out of today’s arrival.

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Over

Bmore on September 5, 2013 at 4:24 PM

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…

G-20 Summit 2013
NSA surveillance programs leaked

Obama and Brazil’s president were last to arrive at G20 dinner as they had a meeting;

US trying to reassure Brazil about NSA leaks – @chucktodd

21 mins ago from twitter.com/chucktodd by editor

canopfor on September 5, 2013 at 4:24 PM

Putin has all the leverage.
.
And Snowden.

FlaMurph on September 5, 2013 at 4:27 PM

And the alligator said: Come. Let me have you for dinner and we’ll discuss such matters as safety in the swamp.

flicker on September 5, 2013 at 4:30 PM

Putin has all the leverage.
.
And Snowden.

FlaMurph on September 5, 2013 at 4:27 PM

In a nutshell…Yep.

Obama handed it to him cause he’s so smart or something…

workingclass artist on September 5, 2013 at 4:40 PM

Meanwhile, out in Cairo…

Think this will leave a mark?

Predictable, too, even weeks and weeks ago…before this Syrian distraction became the rage.

coldwarrior on September 5, 2013 at 3:24 PM

coldwarrior:This is gonna leave a mark:)
=========================================

Car bomb attack targeting Egypt’s interior minister

Raw video: Aftermath of apparent car-bomb assassination attempt on Egyptian interior minister – @AP

4 hours ago from http://www.youtube.com by editor
==============================================

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7q-iF0yIPU0

canopfor on September 5, 2013 at 4:41 PM

And the alligator said: Come. Let me have you for dinner and we’ll discuss such matters as safety in the swamp.

flicker on September 5, 2013 at 4:30 PM

Yeah…apparently there are some bruised egos at play.

US and UK being the prime targets of international derision.

“Russia mocks Britain, the little island
Russia mocked Britain today as “a small island no one listens to”, sparking a diplomatic spat with David Cameron” – headline

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/10290243/Russia-mocks-Britain-the-little-island.html

Aaand Putin flatout called Sec. of State Kerry a liar.

workingclass artist on September 5, 2013 at 4:44 PM

canopfor on September 5, 2013 at 2:13 PM

Guess who is going to have those “bunny ears” when the group photo comes out?

coldwarrior on September 5, 2013 at 2:18 PM

coldwarrior:Lol,I think,you mean’t KWR:)

canopfor on September 5, 2013 at 4:45 PM

canopfor on September 5, 2013 at 2:24 PM

Then why did The One want to be president if he doesn’t want to do presidential things…like talk to other leaders? I mean, he couldn’t even bother himself to walk over with everyone else.

He is making the US look like a child.

Patriot Vet on September 5, 2013 at 2:33 PM

Patriot Vet:

Good point,I think,when he won election in 2008,he was
shocked to win,and here we are,the Leader of the Free World
is an embarrassment:)

canopfor on September 5, 2013 at 4:50 PM

Akzed on September 5, 2013 at 2:41 PM

So is Jebbie running for Hillary’s VP? What a dolt.

bluefox on September 5, 2013 at 5:19 PM

http://www.saint-petersburg.com/peterhof/grand-palace.asp

canopfor on September 5, 2013 at 2:25 PM

That is awesome!! Thanks for posting that:-)

bluefox on September 5, 2013 at 5:25 PM

I wonder if Hopey/Changey bent over,..I..I..mean bowed
to Puty!

canopfor on September 5, 2013 at 2:51 PM

ROFL!

bluefox on September 5, 2013 at 5:30 PM

I wonder if Hopey/Changey bent over,..I..I..mean bowed
to Puty!

canopfor on September 5, 2013 at 2:51 PM

Oh, you stole my comment. He has him bent over a table as we speak demanding he say “dya-dya” and “squeal like a pig”!

hawkdriver on September 5, 2013 at 7:23 PM

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