Obama takes cautious line on Syria, the Afghan border makes Russia nervous, and China’s got a ten-year economic plan. Today is Friday, May 17, and this is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner and @clarerrrr.
A Free Syrian Army member prays next to the grave of a fellow fighter in a cemetery in Deir el-Zor, May 16, 2013. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi
Obama won’t go it alone. President Barack Obama said the United States would leave military and diplomatic action against Assad on the table, adding that the U.S. would not act alone to resolve the crisis. Obama and Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan presented a united front on Syria after a meeting in Washington:
Taking a cautious line at a joint news conference with Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, Obama voiced hope that the United States and Russia would succeed in arranging an international peace conference on Syria, despite signs of growing obstacles. Erdogan had been expected to push Obama, at least in private, for more assertive action on Syria during a visit to Washington this week, days after car bombs tore through a Turkish border town in the deadliest spillover of violence yet.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon saidthat an international peace conference on Syria proposed by the U.S. and Russia, which critics say may be doomed to fail, should be held as soon as possible. French President Francois Hollande criticized Russia for continuing to arm Assad, as U.S. officials said that Russia is sending the regime advanced antiship cruise missiles. A political solution in Syria is further complicated by extremist elements battling Assad. An exclusive Reuters report found that Al Qaeda in Iraq, whose goal goes beyond overthrowing the regime to anti-Western jihad, is overshadowing Syria’s rebel group Al Nusra Front. The two-year long crisis has forced a record 1.5 million refugees out of the country and killed 80,000, according to recently released U.N. figures.