September 06, 2013
ST. PETERSBURG – G20 leaders are working on financial reforms under the shadow of political talks about Syria.
The location for the G20 summit couldn’t be more awkward, because Russia is the world’s strongest supporter of the Assad regime in Syria. Russian President Vladimir Putin has made it clear he doesn’t believe President Obama’s evidence of chemical weapons use there.
Despite the controversy, White House officials say they don’t expect a G20 statement on Syria.
“The President doesn’t want to set a precedent for making political statements at the G20,” said White House Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes.
The focus at the G20 in St. Petersburg is mostly on economic issues that face the globe, but the distraction has White House representatives on defense about the situation in Syria.
Here’s what the White House is making clear right now when it comes to Syria:
- The President wants to see which G20 countries will support enforcing the international norm against the use of chemical weapons.
- The White House says U.S. action in Syria would only address the use of chemical weapons, not the political crisis happening there.
- The White House is not trying to accomplish regime change in Syria.
- Use of military action in Syria would be limited and focused.
- No U.S. boots on the ground and force would not be open-ended.
- Obama is asking for Congress to weigh in because he feels it will strengthen his position internationally.
- When asked about Russians contacting members of congress back in Washington, the White House says, “Russians don’t have anything to add to the debate in U.S.”