G8 leaders issued a closing statement on the second and final day of their summit in Northern Ireland backing calls for Syria peace talks in Geneva "as soon as possible."
The UK's David Cameron said leaders had "overcome fundamental differences,” but there was no timetable for the Geneva talks or mention of Bashar al-Assad's future role.
The Kremlin refused to support any statement making Assad's removal from power an explicit goal.
Answering one of his final questions, the Russian President Vladimir Putin said Western states should think "very carefully" before arming the Syrian opposition.
He mentioned the recent fatal stabbing of British soldier Lee Rigby on the streets of London, comparing "many" of the Syrian rebels to the perpetrators.
"We fulfill legal contracts" delivering weapons to Assad, Putin said, adding non-government Syrian groups should not be supplied with arms.
French President Francois Hollande said it's necessary to give the Syrian opposition all the support it needs -- humanitarian, material, and political -- whilst weeding out "terrorist" elements.
He said Putin accepted participating in discussions about Syria in order to try to find joint positions, including the need for an enquiry into the use of chemical weapons.
The French leader said the proposed Geneva conference "could happen within a short period of time" and it represents a chance for a political transition. It was in Putin’s interests to make the Geneva peace conference on Syria happen, he said.
Here is what the G8 leaders said on Syria in their final statement:
82. We are determined to work together to stop the bloodshed and loss of life in Syria and to support the Syrian people to establish peace and stability through political means. We are gravely concerned at the appalling human tragedy that the UN estimates has cost the lives of over 93,000 people and led to 4.2 million internally displaced persons and 1.6 million refugees. We acknowledge the vital humanitarian role played by neighboring countries hosting Syrian refugees, above all Lebanon and Jordan, in dealing with the significant economic and security pressures they are facing as a result of the conflict and refugee influx.
83. Given the extraordinary humanitarian need as reflected in the latest UN appeal for $5.2 billion in 2013, we are resolved to make exceptional contributions commensurate with the scale of the problem. At this meeting G8 Leaders confirmed additional contributions of almost $1.5 billion to meet humanitarian needs in Syria and its neighbors. We recognize that further contributions will be needed given the scale of the challenge. We urge other countries and organizations to make similar commitments. We call for aid agencies to be given immediate access to provide humanitarian assistance to all civilians in need, in accordance with humanitarian principles and international law, particularly in the worst affected areas such as Qusayr.
84. We remain committed to achieving a political solution to the crisis based on a vision for a united, inclusive and democratic Syria. We strongly endorse the decision to hold as soon as possible the Geneva Conference on Syria to implement fully the Geneva Communiqué of 30 June 2012, which sets out a number of key steps beginning with agreement on a transitional governing body with full executive powers, formed by mutual consent. As the Geneva Communiqué says, the public services must be preserved or restored. This includes the military forces and security services. However all governmental institutions and state offices must perform according to professional and human rights standards, operating under a top leadership that inspires public confidence, under the control of the transitional governing body.
85. Both sides at the Conference must engage seriously and constructively. They should be fully representative of the Syrian people and committed to the implementation of the Geneva Communiqué and to the achievement of stability and reconciliation. We will engage actively with the parties in order to achieve successful outcomes.
86. We are deeply concerned by the growing threat from terrorism and extremism in Syria, and also by the increasingly sectarian nature of the conflict. Syria must belong to all Syrians, including its minorities and all religious groups. We call on the Syrian authorities and opposition at the Geneva Conference jointly to commit to destroying and expelling from Syria all organizations and individuals affiliated to Al Qaeda, and any other non-state actors linked to terrorism. We will support UN planning for Syria’s transition, recovery, and reconstruction needs, in particular by maintaining continuity of state institutions during transition and helping to ensure that the security forces are effective, accountable and able to deal with the threat of terrorism and extremism.
87. We condemn any use of chemical weapons in Syria and call on all parties to the conflict to allow access to the UN investigating team mandated by the UN Secretary-General, and drawing on the expertise of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and World Health Organization (WHO), in order to conduct an objective investigation into reports of use of chemical weapons. The UN team should make their report and deliver it to the UN Security Council for their assessment. We are determined that those who may be found responsible for the use of chemical weapons will be held accountable. We emphasize the need for the secure and safe storage of all chemical weapons in Syria, pending their destruction under international verification. We also condemn in the strongest possible terms all human rights violations and abuses in Syria, committed by anyone, including indiscriminate attacks on civilians. We call on all sides to respect international humanitarian and human rights laws, noting the particular responsibility of the Syrian authorities in this regard.