G8 leaders reach limited agreement on Syria | News | DW | 18.06.2013
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G8 leaders reach limited agreement on Syria

G8 leaders have wound up their Northern Ireland summit with mixed results. Though there was agreement on tackling tax evasion, it was more difficult to find a meaningful consensus on the issue of Syria.

A communique was issued by the G8 nations on Tuesday calling for an end to the fighting in Syria, without mentioning the fate of President Bashar al-Assad.

In the document drawn up at the summit near the town of Enniskillen, it was agreed that proposed talks in Geneva should go ahead a speedily as possible.

"We remain committed to achieving a political solution to the crisis based on a vision for a united inclusive and democratic Syria," the document said. "We strongly endorse the decision to hold as soon as possible the Geneva conference on Syria."

The communique did not mention the fate of Assad, who many leaders have said should stand down to allow talks to take place. Russian President Vladimir Putin was understood to have resisted any attempt to have the document address the notion of Assad stepping down, as demanded by the rebels.

"This would be not just unacceptable for the Russian side … We are convinced that it would be utterly wrong, harmful and would completely upset the political balance," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said on the sidelines.

A meeting on Syria between Putin and US President Barack Obama on Monday was described as having been unsuccessful.

Although there was formal agreement on the need for talks, this had already been reached between the United States and Russia in bilateral negotiations last month. The original proposal for a Geneva meeting between the Syrian government and rebel representatives was put forward by Washington and Moscow themselves.

G8 leaders also reached a deal to make tax evasion and avoidance more difficult, agreeing that authorities should be more ready to share financial information. It was decided that companies with obscure ownership should also be targeted.

"Countries should change rules that let companies shift their profits across borders to avoid taxes, and multinationals should report to tax authorities what tax they pay where," the declaration read. "Companies should know who really owns them and tax collectors and law enforcers should be able to obtain this information easily."

rc/mkg (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)