President Obama and Vladimir Putin
(USA TODAY) -- President Obama renewed efforts Thursday to persuade global allies to
back a military strike on Syria over the use of chemical weapons.
a G-20 summit in Russia otherwise devoted to the global economy, Obama
said before a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that he
looked forward to "an extensive conversation" about Syria.
includes "our joint recognition that the use of chemical weapons in
Syria is not only a tragedy but also a violation of international law
that must be addressed," Obama said.
The formal economic agenda at the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg includes international tax treaties, banking and global trade.
White House also said that Obama has spoken with U.S. senators during
his three-day trip to Sweden and Russia, seeking domestic support as
Congress considers a resolution authorizing force against Bashar Assad's
government in Syria.
The president also postponed a trip to
California that had been planned for Monday and Tuesday, as he faces
what some members of Congress call an uphill battle to win approval of
the Syria resolution.
Several world leaders - including the G-20
host, Russian President Vladimir Putin - oppose military action in
Syria. Putin has challenged the Obama administration's claims that
Bashar Assad's government was behind a chemical weapons attack against
Syrian rebels Aug. 21.
Lakhdar Brahimi, special envoy of the
United Nations and Arab League on Syria, will travel to St. Petersburg
to rally efforts to convene a peace conference in Geneva. U.N.
Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon said, "A political solution is the only
way to end the bloodshed in Syria."
Putin has warned that any
military intervention against Assad's regime without the express consent
of the United Nations would amount to an act of "aggression." Dmitry
Peskov, a spokesman for Putin, told the Voice of Russia that the Russian
president does not plan to meet Brahimi.
Putin said this week he
doesn't exclude supporting U.N. action, but it must be proved that the
Syrian government used poison gas on its own people.
Obama and his
Russian counterpart do not have a formal meeting scheduled during the
two-day summit, but it is possible the two leaders could chat at some
point. They shook hands and smiled during a G-20 welcoming ceremony
Last month, Obama canceled a one-on-one summit with Putin after
Russia's decision to grant temporary asylum to National Security Agency
leaker Edward Snowden.
"It's always the case at these summits that
leaders end up sitting next to each other; they end up having side
conversations," said National Security Council spokesman Ben Rhodes. "So
I certainly anticipate the president will have interactions with
President Putin even as we don't have a formal meeting scheduled."
too, has voiced its disinterest in an attack on Syria. "Military action
would have a negative impact on the global economy, especially on the
oil price," Chinese Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao said at the
Obama does have the backing of some foreign leaders, including those of France, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
president is seeking authorization from the U.S. Congress for military
action in Syria designed to degrade the nation's chemical weapons
During a news conference Wednesday in Stockholm, Obama
said most nations support a ban on chemical weapons use, and the attack
in Syria requires an international response.
"My credibility is
not on the line," Obama said. "The international community's credibility
is on the line. And America and Congress's credibility is on the line
because we give lip service to the notion that these international norms
Wednesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
voted to authorize President Obama to use limited force against Syria,
after adopting amendments from Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., designed to
urge Obama to "change the military equation on the battlefield."
Beyond Syria, one key item up for discussion is on a pact on combating tax evasion and tax avoidance.
United States and several European countries are pushing for an
agreement on sharing information to catch tax dodgers that is likely to
build on the U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act. The law, passed
last year, requires foreign financial institutions to report to the
United States about American account holders.
G-20 members are
also taking aim at the kind of profit-shifting loopholes that Vodafone
Group used to minimize the tax bill on the $130 billion sale of its
stake in Verizon Wireless. Progress on these issues has been helped by a
shared interest in shoring up government revenue, said Yves Tiberghien,
a professor at the University of British Columbia.
leaders will take up a proposal to improve oversight of "shadow banks" -
hedge funds and other non-banks that account for a large proportion of
G-20 nations - including China, France, Brazil,
Canada, Australia, the United States and others - represent two-thirds
of the world's population, 85% of its GDP and its leading armies.