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India does not favour regime change in Syria: PM

India does not favour regime change in Syria: PM

St Petersburg: Condemning the use of chemical weapons in Syria, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Friday that India was not in favour of armed action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The PM was addressing a gathering of G20 leaders in Saint Petersburg on Friday.

World powers on Thursday discussed the Syria crisis over dinner at the G20 summit but failed to bridge their 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.

But rather than seeking a genuine breakthrough, the leaders took turns over three hours to reiterate their own positions on the issue in 10-minute speeches, a diplomatic source said.

"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 the opposition to US-led military action against the Syrian President Bashar-al-Assad over a chemical attack on August 21 outside Damascus, which Washington says was perpetrated by the regime.

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

"Providing more arms to either side is not the answer. There is no military solution," the UN quoted Ban as telling the G20 leaders at the dinner hosted by Putin.

Russia meanwhile said Syria's foreign minister Walid Muallem would travel to Moscow on Monday as Obama seeks to convince US lawmakers to approve military action.

A French diplomatic source said the closed-door dinner, hosted by Putin at the luxurious imperial palace of Peterhof outside Saint Petersburg, was not meant to secure a deal.

"The objective was an exchange between the top world leaders and not to come to an agreement" on the crisis, said the source.

Following the dinner, which ended at around 1am (2100 GMT), the leaders of the world's top emerging and developed nations were treated to a rendition of a abridged version of the opera "La Traviata".

Putin and Obama put on a show of smiles for the cameras as they shook hands just before the summit got under way on the shores of the Gulf of Finland.


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