Obama: G8 Agrees Movement Needed in Syria, has 'Grave Concern' on Iranإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
U.S. President Barack Obama said Saturday that the G8 -- which includes Russia -- agreed that the political process in Syria should move forward "in a more timely fashion."
"We had a discussion about Syria, we all believe that a peaceful resolution and a political transition in Syria is preferable," Obama said, flanked by leaders of the G8 industrialized nations at a Camp David summit.
Clashes across Syria continue despite an April 12 truce brokered by U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan.
More than 12,000 people, the majority of them civilians, have died since the Syrian uprising against President Bashar Assad began in March 2011, including more than 900 killed since the putative truce came into effect, rights activists say.
"We are all deeply concerned about the violence that's taking place there, the loss of life," Obama said.
"We're supportive of the Annan plan, but we agree, and I expect that this will be reflected in our communique, that the Annan plan has to be fully implemented and that a political process has to move forward in a more timely fashion to resolve that issue."
On Iran's nuclear program, Obama said the group was "unified" on how to tackle upcoming nuclear negotiations with Iran.
"I think that all of us agree that Iran has the right to peaceful nuclear power but that its continuing violations of international rules and norms and its inability thus far to convince the world community that it's not pursuing the weaponization of nuclear power is something of grave concern to all of us," Obama said.
"We're unified when it comes to our approach with Iran."
Iran has said sanctions over its disputed nuclear program should be lifted in talks with world powers next week in Baghdad, but on Saturday maintained that the punitive measures would not compel it to abandon its atomic "rights."
Foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told state media that the lifting of sanctions would display "the first signs" that the West is changing its "wrong" approach towards Iran and its nuclear work.
Mehmanparast reiterated Tehran's assertion that the sanctions have no legal basis, but admitted "no one in Iran is happy about the sanctions" and that they "may cause problems."
But he insisted that "sanctions do not really have a significant effect."
Iran is to meet representatives of the so-called P5+1 group, comprising the five permanent U.N. Security Council members plus Germany, in Iraq's capital on Wednesday for the second round of talks which were revived in April in Istanbul after a 15-month impasse.