UK's Cameron arrives in Russia for Syria talks with Putin

10th May 2013, Comments 0 comments

British Prime Minister David Cameron on Friday arrived in Russia's resort city of Sochi for talks on Syria with Russian President Vladimir Putin amid a new international push to find a way to end the two-year conflict.

"The Syrian problem will be discussed," Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told AFP, adding bilateral issues would also be on the agenda.

Cameron flew to Putin's palm-dotted residence on the Black Sea before the British premier's planned meeting with US President Barack Obama at the White House on Monday.

The high-profile visit is part of frantic diplomatic efforts to bring the warring sides in Syria to the negotiating table amid claims of the use of chemical weapons and increasing fears that the conflict would spill over Syria's borders.

"There's an urgent need to start a proper negotiation to force a political transition and to bring this conflict to an end," Cameron told the House of Commons on Wednesday.

"There is a growing body of limited but persuasive information showing that the regime has used and continues to use chemical weapons including sarin, and the room for doubt about this continues to diminish."

Earlier this week, Russia and the United States offered to hold an international conference in search of peace in Syria.

The announcement came after two hours of talks between Putin and US Secretary of State John Kerry and a further three hours of talks between Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Lavrov Thursday also hosted Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, who had met Kerry earlier this week in Rome, and spoke by phone with UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi and UN chief Ban Ki-moon.

Cameron's trip to Putin's Sochi residence, which is usually reserved for meetings with close allies and friends, is highly unusual. It comes despite years of tensions following the polonium poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006.

Cameron visited Moscow for talks with Putin's younger predecessor Dmitry Medvedev in 2011 in an effort to put his country's rocky relations with Russia on a more pragmatic footing but ties remain strained.

The trip to Sochi, which will host the Winter Olympics next year, had been planned for several weeks but had been subject to a media blackout.

© 2013 AFP

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