G8 calls for Syria peace conference as soon as possible

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G8 leaders on Tuesday strongly endorsed calls for a peace conference to be held in Geneva on the Syria conflict “as soon as possible.”

At the end of a summit in Northern Ireland, the leaders also called for an agreement on a Syrian transitional government “formed by mutual consent,” and said the military and security services “must be preserved and restored” in a future set-up.

The G8, including President Bashar al-Assad’s key ally Russia, said it was deeply concerned by the “growing threat” from terrorism and extremism in Syria.

The world powers called on the Syrian regime and the opposition to “commit to destroying and expelling from Syria all organizations and individuals affiliated to Al-Qaeda, and any other non-state actors linked to terrorism.”

British Prime Minister David Cameron, the host of the meeting, said it was “unthinkable” that Assad could play a role in a transitional administration in Syria, but the G8 communique made no reference to him.

Russia won’t rule out new arms to Assad

President Vladimir Putin said that Russia would not rule out sending fresh arms shipments to the embattled Syrian regime.

“If we conclude such contracts, then we will deliver on such contracts,” he told reporters at the end of the summit.

“We are supplying arms to the legitimate government in accordance with legal contracts.”