, SAINT PETERSBURG September 5- World leaders meet Thursday at a G20 summit in Russia where US President Barack Obama will strive to bridge deep divisions over his push for military action against the Syrian regime’s alleged use of chemical weapons.
With pressure mounting on the G20 to make concrete progress towards ending the conflict, the United Nations announced that its special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi was on his way to Russia to push for peace.
Obama cleared the first hurdle Wednesday in his race to win domestic congressional backing for punitive strikes but is also seeking broader international support.
Speaking during a trip to Stockholm, he said the world had set “a red line” for Syria and it could not now remain silent in the face of the alleged chemical weapons attack on Damascus suburbs.
But Russian President Vladimir Putin, a fierce opponent of the proposed military action, warned on the eve of the summit he is hosting in Saint Petersburg that it would be unacceptable for the West to go ahead with military action against Damascus without UN Security Council approval.
The Kremlin demanded “convincing” proof that the regime of Bashar al Assad was responsible for using chemical weapons against its own people.
According to US intelligence, more than 1,400 people living in rebel held suburbs of Damascus were killed in the strike, which involved the use of the sarin nerve gas.
Beyond convincing Russia, Obama has a tough sell ahead elsewhere, with China another veto wielding Security Council member state having already expressed its “grave concerns” over unilateral military strikes.
In Saint Petersburg Vice Minister of Finance Zhu Guangyao emphasised that “China believes that only a political solution is the way to solve the Syria problem,” and warned of a negative impact on the world economy in case of military action.