Obama: U.N. paralyzed on Syria strike

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U.S. President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, said they held “constructive” talks Friday on the deeply divisive issue of Syria on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Russia.

The two leaders hold opposing views over whether military action should be taken against the Syrian government over its alleged use of chemical weapons on its own people.

Obama also said that because of Security Council “paralysis” on the issue, countries should be willing to act without the council’s authorization.

“If we are serious about upholding a ban on chemical weapons use, then an international response is required, and that will not come through Security Council action.”

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Russia calls for talks in Moscow on Syria

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Russia’s foreign minister Monday called for international talks in Moscow to promote a peace process for Syria and avert an American military strike.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said his Syrian counterpart, Foreign Minister Walid Moallem, “said quite clearly Damascus is ready to participate in a positive way” in negotiations.

Lavrov blamed U.S.-backed rebels in Syria for preventing a peace conference in Geneva. He said the Russian government would work to rebuild support for that idea.

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Syria Islamist rebels seize town

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An al Qaeda-linked rebel group has wrested control of the historic Christian town of Maaloula from regime forces, opposition groups said Sunday.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the hardline Islamist rebels of the al-Nusra Front seized control Saturday night.
Videos posted on YouTube in recent days showed fighting between rebels and government forces in the tiny sleepy town, an hour’s drive from the capital Damascus.

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