Obama meets Cameron; discuss Syrian crisis

Washingto, May 14: US President Barack Obama met British Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday and discussed the current Syrian crisis in detail, and urged the international community to come together to bring peace in the Arab country.

"The entire world's community has an interest in seeing a Syria that is not engaged in sectarian war; in which the Syrian people are not being slaughtered; that is an island of peace, as opposed to potentially an outpost for extremists," Obama told reporters at a joint news conference with Cameroon at the Rose Garden of the White House.

"That's not just true for the United States. That's not just true for Great Britain. That's not just true for countries like Jordan and Turkey that border Syria. But that's also true for Russia. And, you know, I'm pleased to hear that David had a very constructive conversation with President (Vladimir) Putin shortly after the conversation that had taken place between John Kerry and President Putin," he said.

"I've spoken to President Putin several times on this topic. Our basic argument is that as a leader on the world stage, Russia has an interest as well as an obligation to try to resolve this issue in a way that can lead to the kind of outcome that we'd all like to see over the long term,"he said.

"If, in fact, we can broker a peaceful political transition that leads to Assad's departure, but a state in Syria that is still intact, that accommodates the interest of all the ethnic groups, all the religious groups inside of Syria, and that ends the bloodshed, stabilizes the situation, that's not just gonna be good for us, that'll be good for everybody," Obama said.

"We're gonna be very persistent in trying to make that happen. I'm not promising that it's gonna be successful. Frankly, sometimes once sort of the furies have been unleashed in a situation like we're seeing in Syria, it's very hard to put things back together," the US President said.

Noting that he had a very nice meeting with Putin last Friday, Cameron said he has been very vocal in supporting the Syrian opposition and saying that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has to go.

"I continue to say that. And President Putin has taken a different point of view. But where there is a common interest is that it is in both our interests that, at the end of this, there is a stable, democratic Syria, that there is a stable neighborhood, and that we don't encourage the growth of violent extremism," he said.

Responding to questions, Cameron said he has not made a decision on arming the Syrian opposition.

"We have not made the decision to arm opposition groups in Syria. What we've done is we've amended the EU arms embargo in order that we can give technical assistance, and technical advice. We're continuing to examine and look at the EU arms embargo and see whether we need to make further changes to it in order to facilitate our work with the opposition," he said.

"I do believe that there's more we can do alongside technical advice, assistance, help in order to shape them, in order to work with them," he said, arguing that being engaged with the Syrian Opposition is the right approach.

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