Paris Attacks Cloud Conversation At Summit Of World Powers | KUOW News and Information

Paris Attacks Cloud Conversation At Summit Of World Powers

Nov 15, 2015
Originally published on November 16, 2015 12:17 pm

Friday's attacks in Paris have cast a shadow over the Group of 20 summit, which opened Sunday in Antalya, in southern Turkey. Leaders of 20 major economies agreed to step up the battle against ISIS and to ease the wider conflict in Syria.

After a moment of silence for the victims in Paris, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told everyone gathered that terrorism threatens everyone. He raised concerns about the refugee crisis flowing from the Syrian civil war and said the world has not passed that exam with good grades.

President Obama reassured his host that the U.S. will do more to find a solution to Syria's political crisis, while at the same time countering ISIS, known by its Arabic acronym, Daesh.

"We will redouble our efforts working with other members of the coalition to bring about a peaceful transition in Syria and eliminate Daesh as a force that can create so much pain and suffering in Paris, in Ankara and other parts of the globe," Obama said.

At one point at the G-20 summit, Obama was seen huddling with Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose military is propping up President Bashar Assad's regime in Syria. The White House called the 35-minute discussion productive.

In the past, Obama has dismissed Russia's intervention as a mistake and has made clear that the war in Syria won't end as long as Assad is in power. Despite the differences, Putin called for a more coordinated international approach.

"We all understand perfectly well that dealing with the terrorist threat and helping millions of people who have lost their homes is only possible by combining all our efforts," Putin said.

For now, the U.S. and Russia have agreed to disagree over Assad's fate. And that disagreement was on display when Secretary of State John Kerry met in Vienna with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov. The two agreed on a diplomatic plan that calls for a cease-fire.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon saw this as a hopeful sign on Sunday.

"After years of division, this is a rare moment of diplomatic opportunity to end the violence and advance the possibility of a political solution," he said.

Daniel Gorevan, a Syria expert with the humanitarian agency Oxfam, is in Antalya to keep the world focused on the crisis in Syria. He says he is heartened by the Vienna agreement.

"If the provisions in that statement — so, a monitored cease-fire, an end to indiscriminate attacks and access to besieged areas, that would bring respite and relief to millions of civilians," Gorevan said.

There is a danger, though, that — like other failed attempts to resolve the war in Syria — these promises will remain on paper only. Gorevan urged the powers meeting here to make a concerted effort this time, and to do more to end the worst refugee crisis since World War II.

"There needs to be a new deal between the rich countries to provide ... that financing to neighboring countries," he said, "and the neighboring countries need themselves to open up that space for refugees to live legally and in dignity, so that they can support themselves."

The Paris terrorist attacks have added a sense of urgency, though the Oxfam activist says the humanitarian disaster emanating from Syria should have already been enough for this crisis to rise to the top of the world's agenda.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The attacks in Paris cast a shadow over the G-20 summit that opened today in southern Turkey. Leaders of the world's 20 major economies agreed to step up the battle against ISIS and to address the wider conflict in Syria. NPR's Michele Kelemen is in the Turkish seaside town of Antalya and filed this report.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: After a moment of silence for the victims in Paris, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told those gathered here that terrorism threatens everyone. He raised concerns about the refugee crisis flowing from the Syrian war and said the world has not passed that exam with good grades. President Obama reassured his host that the U.S. will do more to find a solution to Syria's political crisis, while at the same time countering ISIS, known by its Arabic acronym, Daesh.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BARACK OBAMA: We will redouble our efforts working with other members of the coalition to bring about a peaceful transition in Syria and to eliminate Daesh as a force that can create so much pain and suffering for people in Paris, in Ankara and in other parts of the globe.

KELEMEN: At one point here at the G-20 summit, President Obama was seen huddling with Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose military is propping up Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria. The White House called the 35-minute discussion productive. In the past, Obama has dismissed Russia's intervention as a mistake and has made clear that the war in Syria won't end as long as Assad is in power. Despite the differences, Putin called for a more coordinated international approach.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

VLADIMIR PUTIN: (Speaking Russian).

KELEMEN: "We all understand perfectly well," he said, "that dealing with the terrorist threat and helping millions of people who have lost their homes is only possible by combining all our efforts." For now the U.S. and Russia have agreed to disagree over Assad's fate. And that disagreement was on display when Secretary of State John Kerry met in Vienna with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov. The two agreed on a diplomatic plan that calls for a cease-fire. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon saw this as a hopeful sign today.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BAN KI-MOON: After years of division, this is a rare moment of diplomatic opportunity to end the violence and advance the search for a negotiated political solution.

KELEMEN: Syria expert Daniel Gorevan, with the humanitarian agency Oxfam, is here in Antalya to keep the world focused on the crisis in Syria. He's also heartened by the Vienna agreement.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DANIEL GOREVAN: The provisions in that statement - so, for a monitored cease-fire, for an end to indiscriminate attacks and for access to besieged areas - that would bring respite and relief to millions of civilians.

KELEMEN: There's a danger though that these promises will remain on paper only, like other failed attempts to resolve the war in Syria. Gorevan urged the world powers meeting here to make a concerted effort this time and do more to end the worst refugee crisis since World War II.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

GOREVAN: There needs to be essentially a new deal between the rich countries to provide that money to provide that financing to neighboring countries. But the neighboring countries themselves need to open up that space for refugees to live legally in dignity and to be able to support themselves.

KELEMEN: The Paris terrorist attacks have added a sense of urgency, though the Oxfam activist says the humanitarian disaster emanating from Syria should have already been enough for this crisis to rise to the top of the world's agenda. Michele Kelemen, NPR News, Antalya, Turkey. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.