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Obama slams Russia and Iran for supporting 'child-killing tyrant' Assad

The US president is due to meet Putin for the first time in over two years later today.

Obama gestures as he speaks to Russian President Vladimir Putin during arrivals for the G-20 Summit in St Petersburg, Russia in 2013.
Obama gestures as he speaks to Russian President Vladimir Putin during arrivals for the G-20 Summit in St Petersburg, Russia in 2013.
Image: Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP/Press Association Images

Updated at 4:40pm

US PRESIDENT BARACK Obama took the podium at the UN General Assembly on Monday to denounce those who support leaders like Syria’s Bashar Al-Assad, accusing him of slaughtering children.

The barb, a direct attack on Russia and Iran for their ongoing military backing for Syria’s beleaguered regime, came shortly before Moscow’s President Vladimir Putin was to speak.

Obama said some states prefer stability over the international order mandated by the UN Charter, and try to impose it by force.

“We’re told that such retrenchment is required to beat back disorder, that it’s the only way to stamp out terrorism or prevent foreign meddling,” he said.

In accordance with this logic, we should support tyrants like Bashar al-Assad who drops barrel bombs to massacre innocent children, because the alternative is surely worse.

Russia and Iran have argued that world powers should support Bashar al-Assad’s regime, at least until Syrian forces manage to defeat the Islamic State jihadist group.

Obama said he was nevertheless “prepared to work with any nation, including Russia and Iran, to resolve the conflict”.

‘Common platform for collective action’

Putin and Obama are due to come face-to-face for their first official meeting in over two years at the UN General Assembly today.

Obama Foreign Policy Obama and Putin at their last meeting in 2012, during the G20 Summit in Mexico. Source: Carolyn Kaster/AP/Press Association Images

Moscow has put Washington on the back foot by dispatching troops and aircraft to the war-torn country and pushing reluctant world leaders to admit its long-standing ally Bashar al-Assad could cling to power.

The Kremlin strongman called in an interview ahead of the UN summit for “a common platform for collective action” against Islamic State jihadists that would supercede a US-led coalition and involve Assad’s forces.

On the ground, Russia seems to have already started putting the pieces together by agreeing with Iraq, Syria and Iran that their officers will work together in Baghdad to share intelligence on IS.

‘Long way to go’

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that despite the sharp disagreements, he saw that Moscow and Washington shared a “desire to work together” on Syria after a meeting with his American counterpart John Kerry on Sunday.

But the US has expressed deep concern over Russia’s maneuvering in Syria and insists Obama will not let Putin off the hook over Ukraine after he shattered ties with the West by seizing the Crimea peninsula and allegedly fueling a separatist conflict.

“We’re just at the beginning of trying to understand what the Russians’ intentions are in Syria, in Iraq, and to try to see if there are mutually beneficial ways forward here,” a senior State Department official said.

“We’ve got a long way to go in that conversation.”

Washington has demanded that Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad step down, but Putin’s rival alliance with Shiite-led states will instead shore up the beleaguered government in Damascus.

© – AFP 2015

Read: Has Obama been drinking his own urine in a bid to highlight climate change? >

Read: Vladimir Putin phoned Elton John, and this time it wasn’t a joke >

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