BOSTON (CBS) – The G20 summit is supposed to focus on economics but will clearly be dominated by the situation in Syria.
We’ve talked about the political side of this on Capitol Hill but President Obama is also making the pitch to our allies in an effort to build something of a coalition.
We know who he will not be meeting with – the host, Russian President Vladamir Putin. The White House canceled a planned meeting with him in the wake of the Edward Snowden mess.
Britain will not play a role in any military strike against Syria, leaving the president to lobby a rather unlikely duo – France and China. Those two countries could end-up having a major impact on the way this is handled internationally.
Many will point to our recent history with France and the war in Iraq.
But leave the Freedom Fries at home because President Obama will hold a bi-lateral meeting with French President Hollande who has indicated a willingness to get involved. Let’s also remember the French were deeply involved in Libya and have had troops in Afghanistan since the beginning.
But Obama’s meeting with the Chinese president could be the most important conversation at the G20 because Russia’s lack of involvement leaves China as the only friend of Syria who might be able to help.
Presidents Obama and Xi already know each other. They held their own summit earlier this year in California and while they have differences, they are said to have a pragmatic relationship – driven by the deep economic ties between our two countries.
Neither of them can afford damaging that relationship, building hope this summit could be more productive than many first thought.
Follow Joe on Twitter @joemathieuwbz