ENNISKILLEN (AFP) – Western nations will push Russian President Vladimir Putin to sign up to action on Syria at the G8 summit or risk being left out in the cold, British officials said on Monday.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, who is hosting the summit in Northern Ireland, drew up five main points for discussion at a leaders' dinner on Monday night that could form the basis for a statement at the end of the meeting, said officials.
But if Putin fails to agree, the rest of the Group of Eight most industrialised nations could even go ahead with a statement on Syria without Russia, which was only admitted to the group in 1998.
A Downing Street official said Cameron believed this G8 summit would be a "clarifying moment" on the international community's position on Syria, where the civil war is now in its third year.
Officials said the rest of the G8 -- the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Canada, Italy and Japan -- were united on the course of action to end the violence.
Russia however continues to back the regime of its top ally, Syrian President Bashar-al Assad.
British officials said Cameron had drawn up five key areas for discussion on which he thought there could be progress with Putin in terms of formulating a statement for the end of the summit.
The result of the summit would be "clarifying just what commitment Russia is prepared to make in a leading international forum."
The five areas were humanitarian access, tackling the growing problem of Islamist extremists in Syria, chemical weapons, looking at the first days of a transition on the model of Libya, and the form of a new "executive authority" after the transition and who it would include.
The issue of arming the rebels and of a possible no-fly zone were not expected to play a major role in the discussion at the dinner, the officials said.
The leaders were meeting without officials or aides at a lakeside lodge. There was a fireside for chats, and a traditional Irish bar with Guinness on tap for the leaders if they chose.
The menu featured crab, prawn and avocado salad; roast fillet and braised shin of beef with violet artichokes, new potatoes and seasonal vegetables; and apple crumble with whiskey custard, according to a menu tweeted by Cameron himself.
The dinner came just hours after Barack Obama and Putin openly admitted having sharply opposing views on Syria, while pledging to try to keep alive a bid to hold a peace conference in Geneva.
Just days earlier the White House signalled it would begin arming rebels battling Assad.