The U.S. president arrived at St Petersburg for a tense G20 summit and found out that Russia’s opposition to US airstrikes had gained international support.
Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, welcomed President Obama and the politicians exchanged a stiff handshake and stern look, posing for photos.
According to reports, when sitting in the summit room the two men did not speak to one another directly during opening talks about the world economy.
As The Telegraph reports, the awkward initial encounter came after other leaders, who also arrived in Russia for the summit, pointedly sided with Russia in its opposition to US-led military action.
China announced that the military intervention in Syria would damage the global economy by pushing up oil prices. And although the small country is not a significant oil exporter, the prospect of conflict in the region often pushes up oil prices.
“Military action would have a negative impact on the global economy, especially on the oil price – it will cause a hike in the oil price,” said Zhu Guangyao, the Chinese Vice Finance Minister.
Brazil, India and South Africa also expressed their concerns regarding the possible military strike. They predicted that military actions would do economic harm.
Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Russian president, said that the leaders of the world’s most powerful countries have come to the conclusion that the intervention would have an “extremely negative effect” on the global economy.”
“There is no military solution to the Syrian conflict,” said Herman van Rompuy, the EU president. “Only a political solution can end the terrible bloodshed, grave violations of human rights and the far-reaching destruction of Syria.”
By the way, a few days ago the Pope urged world leaders to preent intervention and to end the “the futile pursuit of a military solution”.
Iran, Syria’s most prominent and powerful regional ally, also repeated its fierce opposition to intervention.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, warned that the US will “suffer loss” if it conducted the military strike. Tehran is supporting the Assad regime through its Hezbollah militia allies.
However, Francois Hollande of France is the last world leader who still wants and is able to support US action with military force.
The president of Frane insisted that it was necessary to “punish” the Syrian goernment over the chemical weapons attack two weeks ago, since only such punishment will cause the official Damasus to agree a peaceful outcome to the civil war.
“Punishment will allow negotiation, but obviously it will be difficult,” Mr Hollande said.
The British Prime Minister and President Obama will not have a formal meeting in St Petersburg, but Cameron has previously urged Obama to intervent in Syria.
The U.S. president has said that using chemical weapons would be a “red line” for intervention.
“I absolutely believe that having set a red line on the further big use of chemical weapons, I think it would be wrong if America was to step back and having set that red line to do nothing,” the Prime Minister said.
“I think that would send an appalling signal to President Assad and also to dictators elsewhere.”