LOS CABOS, Mexico – U.S. President Barack Obama said Russia and China have “not signed on” to any plan for the removal from power of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad but that they recognize the dangers of an all-out civil war in the country.
Obama said Assad has lost all legitimacy and that it was impossible to conceive of any solution to the violence in Syria that leaves him in power.
He conceded he had failed to make a breakthrough with the leaders of Russia or China, despite intensive talks with both Moscow and Beijing, which have shielded Assad from tougher U.N. sanctions.
“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, but I do think they recognize the grave dangers of all-out civil war,” Obama told reporters at a Group of 20 summit in Mexico.
“I do not think they condone the massacres we have witnessed and I think they believe that everybody would be better served if Syria had a mechanism for ceasing the violence and creating a legitimate government,” he added.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said earlier that Russian President Vladimir Putin has made it clear he wants Assad out of power in Syria. But Putin quickly contradicted that, and said only the Syrians should decide whether Assad stays or goes.
Obama and Putin discussed Syria at length when they met on Monday in the Mexican resort of Los Cabos, where they were attending the G20 summit.