DAVID Cameron is to hold talks with Russian president Vladimir Putin in an effort to break the international deadlock on Syria.
• Prime Minister David Cameron will hold talks with Russian president Vladimir Putin over Syria
• Talks aimed at breaking political deadlock on ongoing conflict ahead of G8 summit in Northern Ireland
The Prime Minister said he would be meeting Mr Putin in Downing Street on Sunday ahead of next week’s G8 summit in Northern Ireland.
“We should use the G8 to try and bring pressure on all sides to bring about what we all want, which is a peace conference, a peace process and a move towards a transitional government in Syria,” he told MPs at Prime Minister’s Questions.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said Mr Cameron would be seeking to continue the dialogue he opened with Mr Putin when they met last month in Sochi.
“I don’t think it is new to say that we have differences with the Russians with regard to Syria,” the spokesman said.
“However we want to keep working on how we can crank up the pressure here. That is what the meeting on Sunday is very much about. It is about cranking up the pressure on all sides in the conflict in Syria.”
Foreign Secretary William Hague, meanwhile, was travelling to Washington for talks on the Syrian conflict with US secretary of state John Kerry ahead of the G8.
Tensions with Moscow over the conflict in Syria ratcheted up last month when Britain combined with France to secure the lifting of the EU arms embargo to block the supply of weapons to the rebels.
The Russians responded by announcing they would go ahead with the supply of sophisticated S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to the regime of President Bashar al Assad to deter “hotheads” from entering the conflict.
In the Commons, Mr Cameron strongly defended the ending of the EU embargo, saying it was designed to put pressure on the regime to attend planned peace talks in Geneva brokered by Russia and the United States.
“The point about lifting the arms embargo - which applied originally to both the regime and the official Syrian opposition - is to send a very clear message about our intentions and about our views to President Assad,” he said.
“We all want to see a peace conference come about. the question is how are we most likely to put pressure on the parties to attend that peace conference.
“The Russian regime has been arming this regime for decades and frankly it is naive to believe anything else.”
Pressed by Labour leader Ed Miliband, Mr Cameron stressed that no decision had been taken to arm the rebels, and he again indicated that MPs would be given a chance to vote if the Government did decide to go ahead.
“I have always believed in allowing the House of Commons a say on all of these issues,” he said.