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16 Jun, 2013 18:38

Putin warns Cameron against arming Syrian rebels as UK weighs options

Putin warns Cameron against arming Syrian rebels as UK weighs options

Russia and UK still have very different approaches to the Syrian crisis,British PM Cameron said after meeting Putin adding that the decision to arm rebels is yet to be made.Russia’s President warned against such a move citing rebels' atrocities.

"The  blood is on the hands of both parties” of the conflict, not only Bashar Assad’s government but also the rebels, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin stressed at the press conference at 10 Downing Street.

"I think you will not deny that one does not really need to support the people who not only kill their enemies, but open up their bodies, eat their intestines, in front of the public and cameras," Putin said referring to a video footage on the Internet of a rebel fighter eating the heart of a government soldier. Later however it was concluded the fighter was holding a lung.

"Is it them who you want to supply with weapons?" he said adding that it does not correspond with international humanitarian norms.

Putin also defended Russia's arms supplies to the official government of Syria saying they are "in accordance with  international laws.”

Syrian army soldiers standing on an army tank in the village of Buweida, north of Qusayr, in Syria's central Homs province (AFP Photo / Str)

The comments came as the two leaders met ahead of the G8 summit scheduled to start on Monday in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland.

The President and Prime minister discussed a broad range of questions including security on  Winter Olympics in Russia’s resort city  Sochi, however  the civil war in Syria  was the main focus with questions after the press-conference concentrating on this topic.

PM Cameron, unlike Putin, laid the total responsibility for the two-year Syrian crisis on President Bashar Assad.

“The responsibility lies with Assad and the onslaught that he created with his people,” the PM said.  The “new evidence makes that clearer than ever,” he added referring to the US claims of finding proof that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons against the rebels.

Syrian rebel fighters belonging to the "Martyrs of Maaret al-Numan" battalion leave their position after a range of shootings in the northwestern town of Maaret al-Numan in front of the army base of Wadi Deif, down in the valley (AFP Photo / Daniel Leal-Olivas)

The findings were disclosed on Thursday and assessment results were handed to the Russian Foreign Ministry which found them “unconvincing”.

The press conference once again showed wide differences between Moscow’s and London’s approaches to the situation in Syria – something Cameron admitted straight away. Despite this, leaders said that the countries have a common goal and the desire to provide conditions of a diplomatic settlement of the ongoing Syrian conflict.

"There is common ground in that we both see a humanitarian catastrophe", Cameron said.

Russia’s President agreed that “eventually we will solve the problem and put all parties at the negotiating table with joint efforts."

“This is one of the most appropriate solutions to the problem, and it can be solved only through political and diplomatic means," Putin said.