Putin, Obama to Discuss Syria at G8

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Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Barack Obama will hold a bilateral meeting at the G8 summit in Northern Ireland after Washington upped the ante in the Syrian war by pledging military aid to rebels, the Kremlin's foreign policy aide said.

Putin and Obama will meet on the sidelines of the G8 summit at the Lough Erne resort on Monday and will also kickstart a Syria session at the summit at the request of host Britain.

Since the start of the conflict in 2011, Moscow has supported Syrian President Bashar Assad, while Washington backs the opposition.

"The British chair proposed that Barack Obama and Vladimir Vladimirovich (Putin) present the main reports, be the first to start the discussion because the main topic in the air is the holding of the second Geneva conference," Putin's top foreign policy aide Yury Ushakov told reporters on Friday.

Syria is also expected to top the agenda of Putin's talks with Obama, their meeting coming after Washington accused Assad of using chemical weapons against his people and promised "military support" to rebel forces.

Moscow immediately said the U.S. claims that the Damascus regime had used the chemical weapons were "unconvincing" and hurt peace efforts, referring to plans by Russia and the United States to hold a Syrian peace conference in Geneva.

The conference was supposed to build on the never implemented Geneva accord agreed in the Swiss city last June, but the plans to convene the new conference have repeatedly been pushed back.

"Putin and Obama will discuss the pace of the implementation of the Russian-U.S. initiative to prepare the international conference in Geneva."

"The situation is very tense," said Ushakov, referring to the Syrian conflict.

Later Friday, Putin discussed the latest developments around Syria with his Security Council, his spokesman said.

In a separate statement, the Kremlin said that Putin and Obama also plan to discuss ramping up anti-terror cooperation following the twin bombing attacks in Boston.

The April attacks blamed on suspects of Chechen origin proved the need for "close cooperation between Russian and U.S. special services free of politicization," the statement said.

Moscow would be interested to ramp up cooperation with the U.S. special services ahead of the Winter Olympic Games it hosts in Sochi next year, the Kremlin added.

Putin and Obama last met on the sidelines of the G20 summit at Los Cabos, Mexico last June.

Also Monday, Putin will meet with Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta, French President Francois Hollande and Japan's Shinzo Abe.

He will meet British Prime Minister David Cameron on Sunday.

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