President Obama said on Tuesday he did not persuade Russia and China to agree to join the international community in pressuring Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad to step down.
Closing out the G-20 summit in Mexico, Obama said escalating violence in Syria was a major topic in meetings between himself and President Vladimir Putin of Russia and President Hu Jintao of China. Obama said he has yet to persuade both leaders to sign on to international plans to build a framework a political transition in Syria, but that he’ll keep trying.
“We had a very candid conversation. I wouldn’t suggest that at this point the United States and the rest of the international community are aligned with Russia and China in their positions,” Obama said. “But I do think they recognize the grave dangers of all-out civil war. I do not think they condone the massacres that we’ve witnessed, and I think they believe that everyone would be better served in Syria had a mechanism for ceasing the violence and creating a legitimate government.”
“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,” Obama said.
“If you’re asking me whether they signed on to that proposition, I don’t think it would be fair to day they are there yet,” Obama said. “But I’m going to keep making the argument. And my expectation is that at some point, there’s a recognition that it’s hard to envision a better future for Syria while Assad is there.”
"What I've said to them is it's important for the world community to work with the United Nations and Kofi Annan on what a political transition would look like. And my hope is that we can have those conversations in the coming week or two," Obama said.