World powers fail to heal Syria rift at G20 dinner

World powers fail to heal Syria rift at G20 dinner

SAINT PETERSBURG - World powers discussed the Syria crisis over dinner at the G20 summit but failed to bridge deeply entrenched divisions over a US push for military action against President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

As tensions over the Syrian conflict threatened to torpedo the working schedule of the G20 summit outside Saint Petersburg, host Vladimir Putin made a last-minute announcement for participants to air their views over dinner.

The leaders took turns over three hours to reiterate their positions on the issue in 10-minute speeches, a diplomatic source close to the talks told AFP.

"The G20 has just now finished the dinner session at which the divisions about Syria were confirmed," Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta, who attended the dinner, said in a comment on his official Twitter feed.

Russia has led opposition to US-led military action against Assad's regime over a chemical attack on August 21 outside Damascus, which Washington says was perpetrated by Damascus.

In New York, the US envoy to the United Nations accused Russia of holding the UN Security Council hostage.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said London had fresh evidence of chemical weapons use.

In a new bid for a peaceful solution for Syria, the UN announced that its special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi would attend meetings at the two-day summit to push for peace talks.

"Let us remember: every day that we lose is a day when scores of innocent civilians die," the UN quoted Ban as telling the G20 leaders at the dinner.

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