President Obama Making Small Talk With Russian Leader At G-20 -

President Obama Making Small Talk With Russian Leader At G-20

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A Senate panel has voted to give President Barack Obama the authority to use military force against Syria in response to a deadly chemical weapons attack. A Senate panel has voted to give President Barack Obama the authority to use military force against Syria in response to a deadly chemical weapons attack.

President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin have been smiling for the cameras and making small talk during their brief direct encounters at the G-20 summit.

Otherwise, their differences have been pointed.

Putin's spokesman says a U.S. strike to punish Syria for an alleged chemical weapons attack would "drive another nail into the coffin of international law."

Meanwhile, the Kremlin says it's boosting its naval presence in the Mediterranean, "primarily" for a possible evacuation of Russians from Syria.

With smiles, Obama, Putin greet each other

Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomed President Barack Obama with a smile and a handshake to the Group of 20 summit, in one of the most closely watched greetings of international diplomacy.

The 15-second exchange at the entrance to St. Petersburg's splendid Constantine Palace drew widespread media attention as a potential telltale sign of relations between the United States and Russia.

The exchange was their only planned one-on-one appearance at the summit in the midst of tensions between the two leaders over Syria and Russia's grant of asylum to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.

As Obama shook hands and smiled broadly, he thanked his host and nodded toward the palace pronouncing it, quote, "beautiful."

Obama arrived in his armored limousine, unlike other summit leaders who rode in G-20 Mercedes cars.

Russia: Strike on Syria could mean nuke disaster

Russia is warning that a U.S. strike on Syria's atomic facilities might result in a nuclear catastrophe and is urging the U.N. to present a risk analysis of such a scenario.

The warning comes from Russia's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Alexander Lukashevich. He said in a statement Wednesday that a strike on a miniature reactor near Damascus or other nuclear installations could contaminate the region with radioactivity, adding: "The consequences could be catastrophic."

IAEA spokeswoman Gill Tudor told the AP in an email Thursday that her agency is ready to "consider the questions raised" by Lukashevich if it receives a formal request to do so from Moscow.

Russia's Interfax news agency says that Moscow intends to bring up the issue at next week's 35-nation IAEA board meeting.

Germany pessimistic on world agreement over Syria

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is doubtful that world leaders can agree on what to do about Syria's civil war, despite frenzied diplomatic efforts following a chemical weapons attack.
Merkel told reporters Thursday at a summit of the Group of 20 leading world economies that because of disagreement over who was responsible for the poison gas attack last month, "I do not believe yet that we will reach a joint position."
The United States and France are trying to rally international support at the G-20 summit for a possible military intervention against Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime over the chemical attack. Merkel insisted that Germany wouldn't get involved militarily, but could provide humanitarian aid and political support.
Summit host Vladimir Putin supports Syria's government and opposes intervention.

EU urges quick UN report on Syria chemical attack

The European Union is urging U.N. investigators to release information as soon as possible about a chemical weapons attack in Syria so that the international community can decide how to respond.
In unusually strong language, EU President Herman Van Rompuy told reporters in St. Petersburg on Thursday that the Aug. 21 attack "was a blatant violation of international law and a crime against humanity."
But he said it's too early for a military response, even as the United States and France are readying possible armed action against the Syrian government.
Van Rompuy pushed for a political solution and a report by U.N. investigators "as soon as possible." He said U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will brief other leaders on Syria at the summit of the Group of 20 leading economies.

Senate Panel Votes To Authorize Force In Syria

A Senate panel has voted to give President Barack Obama the authority to use military force against Syria in response to a deadly chemical weapons attack.

The vote Wednesday was 10-7, with one senator voting present. The full Senate is expected to vote on the measure next week.

The resolution would permit Obama to order a limited military mission against Syria, as long as it doesn't exceed 90 days and involves no American troops on the ground for combat operations.

The Democratic chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Bob Menendez, and the panel's top Republican, Sen. Bob Corker, crafted the resolution.

The vote marked the first time lawmakers have voted to authorize military action since the October 2002 votes giving President George W. Bush the authority to invade Iraq.

Obama Faces Syria Test As House Holds 1st Hearing

In an impassioned appeal for support both at home and abroad, President Barack Obama says the credibility of the international community and Congress is on the line in the debate over to a response to the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria.

As Obama made his case overseas during a visit to Sweden, his proposal for military intervention was under consideration by skeptical House members at home.

Asked about his past comments drawing a "red line" against the use of chemical weapons, Obama said it was a line that had first been clearly drawn with the chemical weapons treaty ratified by countries around the world and ratified by Congress.

McCain opposes Senate resolution on Syria

Sen. John McCain says he doesn't support the latest Senate resolution to authorize military force against Syria.
McCain is an outspoken advocate of intervention against Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime and wants more than cruise missile strikes and other limited action.
The Arizona Republican threatened earlier this week to vote against a White House draft resolution unless President Barack Obama promised greater support to Syria's rebels. McCain then came out in favor after meeting Obama at the White House.
He now opposes a resolution crafted by fellow Republican Sens. Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Bob Corker of Tennessee. It puts a 90-day limit on action and says no American troops can be sent into Syria.
Asked if he supported it, McCain said, "In its current form, I do not."

Syria's neighbors seek more help for refugees

GENEVA (AP) - Top officials from four nations harboring more than 1.8 million Syrian refugees say they badly need outside help to care for those fleeing the violence.
In a joint statement Wednesday, the foreign ministers from Iraq, Jordan and Turkey, Lebanon's social affairs minister and U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres urgently appealed for greater international support for the refugee crisis.
Guterres says Syria's neighbors are paying a heavy price to deal with Syria's civil war, which he said is dramatically escalating. His agency says the conflict has forced over 2 million people out of the country - more than half of them children - and displaced over 4 million others within its borders since it began in March 2011.

Diplomat: UN weapons team speeds up Syria analysis

UNITED NATIONS (AP) - A senior diplomat says the U.N. chemical weapons inspection team that left Syria with biological samples and other materials is speeding up its analysis and hopes to have it done in two or three weeks.
The diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity because his discussions with top U.N. officials were private, says the expedited analysis will shave about a week off the processing time.
The U.N. team last week was in Syria to determine whether chemical weapons were used Aug. 21 in a Damascus suburb, and if so, what types were used.
The Obama administration continues to push Congress to authorize a U.S. military strike to degrade Syrian President Bashar Assad's chemical weapons capabilities.
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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