G-20 disappoints: Obama, Putin fail to have a meeting of the minds
Share with others:
The just concluded G-20 summit, reminding Pittsburghers of the September 2009 edition of it here, took place in Los Cabos, Baja California, Mexico this time.
G-20 nations represent 90 percent of the world's gross domestic product and two-thirds of its population. President Barack Obama attended.
Probably the most important bilateral meeting of the summit for him was Monday with recently re-elected Russian President Vladimir V. Putin. Photographs of the two after their two-hour meeting did not indicate there had been much of a meeting of the minds between them, although those used to Mr. Putin said the former intelligence officer is not prone to warm and fuzzy expressions in general.
The principal subject of discussion in the meeting, it was said, was the future of Syria. It is hard to imagine that there was much common ground between them on the subject. Mr. Obama seems to want to do something to stop the fighting there and to get rid of its president, Bashar al-Assad.
Mr. Putin sees Syria, instead, as part of Russia's sphere of influence and does not want the United States to lead any sort of campaign to bring about regime change there. Syria hosts, for example, Russia's only naval base on the warm-water Mediterranean Sea. Russia is critical of the U.S. and NATO role in getting rid of Libya's Moammar Gadhafi, bringing relative chaos to that North African state.
Other touchy subjects between the United States and Russia include U.S. plans to deploy a missile defense system in Europe, which Russia sees as a threat; U.S. use of a northern route through Russia to supply its forces in Afghanistan with the former Pakistan channel blocked; imaginative claims by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney that Russia is America's No. 1 geopolitical foe; and Iran.
Mr. Putin cleverly found himself in Mexico at the G-20 summit at just the time that the P-5-plus-1 (permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany) were meeting in Moscow with Iran to discuss its nuclear program. If Mr. Putin had been in Moscow, the heat would have been on him to lean on the Iranians to produce a useful outcome to the meeting, otherwise uncertain.
The most positive outcome of the Los Cabos G-20 meeting was a new pledge of $75 billion to the International Monetary Fund by the BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) to beef up its resources for bailing out nations with shaky economies. Most -- $43 billion -- was put up by China. The United States, a shaky economy, contributed nothing.
First Published June 20, 2012 12:00 am