President Barack Obama “appeared isolated” in St. Petersburg, Russia on Friday at the Group of Twenty (G20) summit over his desire to launch a strike on Syria, Reuters reports.
Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin squared off during a 20-minute one-on-one talk Friday.
“We hear one another, and understand the arguments but we don’t agree. I don’t agree with his arguments, he doesn’t agree with mine. But we hear them, try to analyze them,” said Putin.
China’s Xi Jinping also stood with Putin in opposing Obama’s desire to strike Syria, an action a majority of Americans do not support.
“A political solution is the only right way out for the Syrian crisis, and a military strike cannot solve the problem from the root,” said Xi. “We expect certain countries to have a second thought before action.”
Putin has challenged Obama’s contention that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad gassed 1,400 of his own people, claiming instead that the poison gas attack was the work of the rebels who want the U.S. to join them in a battle against Assad.
Interactions between Obama and Putin were reportedly tense and come on the heels of Russia’s hosting of National Security Agency (NSA) leaker Edward Snowden.
Obama also met with gay rights activists in an effort to demonstrate solidarity with Russian gay advocacy groups whose rights were weakened by a recent law Putin signed in July. However, according to Reuters, “some invitees declined to attend, citing what they said were repeated changes in the timing of the meeting.” One gay rights activist “added her voice to warnings against a military strike in Syria.”