The seating plan at today’s G20 summit in Saint Petersburg, Russia, has reportedly been adjusted to put physical distance between host President Vladimir Putin and President Barack Obama as tensions are running high over Syria.
Ahead of the meeting of the leading world economies in St Petersburg, Vladimir Putin warned that action without UN approval would be “an aggression” as the relationship between the two countries reaches its lowest point since the Cold War.
But President Obama, who is leading the international drive for an armed response to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s apparent breach of the prohibition on the use of chemical weapons, said the credibility of the international community was on the line.
Barack Obama last night cleared the first hurdle to obtaining Congressional approval for a strike, as the influential Senate Foreign Affairs Committee backed the use of force by a margin of 10-7, moving the measure to a full Senate vote next week.
The proposal allows the use of force for 60 days, with the possibility of a 30-day extension.
He president has said he is confident of receiving approval from Congress for “limited and proportionate’ military action, which he said would not involve US troops putting ‘boots on the ground” in Syria.
Bashar al-Assad had flouted a chemical weapons ban enshrined in treaties signed by governments representing 98% of the world’s population, he said, adding: “I didn’t set a red line. The world set a red line.”
Speaking in Sweden as he travelled to St Petersburg, Barack Obama said the credibility of the international community was “on the line” if it allowed Bashar al-Assad to act with impunity.