ST. PETERSBURG, Russia -- World leaders, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper, spent a working dinner at the annual G20 summit here talking about the crisis in Syria.
The decision to put Syria on the agenda of what is usually a summit reserved for discussion of economic issues was made by this year's host, Russian President Vladimir Putin, leader of a country that finds itself on the defensive here over Syria.
Russia was accused by Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird on Wednesday of providing "moral, political and material support" to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, support that in Baird's view, "has given him the ability to soldier on" for nearly 30 months.
But Dmitry Peskov, Putin's press secretary, said in an interview with Russia Today that "Russia has never been an advocate of President Assad. Russia has always been an advocate of (the) supremacy of international law."
On Thursday, Baird was a bit more muted in his approach to the Syrian crisis.
"A political settlement ... is the best hope to end the suffering of the Syrian people," Baird told reporters here.
Baird met here with his counterparts from Australia and France and noted they were "of like minds" with Canada.