World Bulletin/News Desk
Western leaders attending a G20 summit blasted Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday for the crisis in Ukraine, threatening further sanctions if Russia did not withdraw troops and weapons from its neighbouring nation.
Speaking on the sidelines of the summit in Brisbane, Obama placed security and climate change at the centre stage of the leaders meeting, overshadowing talks on how to lift flagging global economic growth.
"The present situation is not satisfying," Merkel told reporters at the summit. "At present the listing of further persons is on the agenda."
European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, also at the G20 summit, said Europe's foreign ministers will meet on Monday to assess the situation in Ukraine and whether further steps including additional sanctions were needed against Russia.
Putin's isolation at the G20 summit was evident with his placing on the outer edge for the formal leaders photograph. While Obama and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping were met by Australia's govenor general and attorney general when they arrived in Brisbane, Putin was met by the assistant defence minister.
Despite being under intense pressure, Putin was all smiles, shaking hands with host Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who had threatened to "shirt front", or physically confront, him over the downing of Malaysian airliner MH17 over Ukraine, in which 28 Australians died.
A Kremlin spokesman said the Ukraine crisis was the only topic discussed at a one-on-one meeting between Putin and British Prime Minister David Cameron, but he added both expressed interest in "ending confrontation" and rebuilding relations. Putin also met French President Francois Hollande, and both agreed to protect their ties from the effects of sanctions, the spokesman said.
UKRAINIAN AUSTRALIANS PROTEST
Outside the summit, Ukrainian Australians staged an anti-Putin protest, wearing headbands reading "Putin, Killer".
Draped with the flags of the nations that lost citizens when the flight MH17 was shot down, the demonstrators lay on a large Ukrainian flag, in what they said was a protest at the "murderous acts" Russia's president was responsible for.
Russia denied it was involved in a recent escalation of military activity in Ukraine and said it supported the implementation of the ceasefire agreed in Minsk in September. "We are not involved," Kremlin foreign policy aide Yuri Ushakov told reporters, adding that leaders from Brazil, India, China and South Africa, fellow members of the BRICS group of nations, had offered their support.
G20 host Australia had hoped that the two-day summit would focus on global economic growth, not security or the environment. But the comments from Obama, Merkel and Van Rompuy suggest that security will remain the dominant theme.
Obama insisted that Asia's security order must not be based on "coercion or intimidation ... where big nations bully the small, but on alliances for mutual security".
Despite Australia's reluctance to allow climate change on the summit agenda after it abolished a tax on carbon emissions, Obama spent a large part of his speech urging action on the environment. He pledged a $3 billion U.S. contribution to an international fund to help poor countries cope with the effects of climate change.
Highlighting Australia's exposure to climate change, Obama said longer droughts and more wildfires were likely.
"The incredible natural glory of the Great Barrier Reef is threatened. Worldwide this past summer was the hottest on record. No nation is immune and every nation has a responsibility to do its part," he said.
But Australia stuck to its economic script.
A plan to increase global economic growth by an additional 2 percentage points over the next five years was on track, Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey said.
"This ambition translates into about $2 trillion in additional global economic activity and millions of new jobs," he said.Last Mod: 15 Kasım 2014, 12:52