Obama’s meetings at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Honolulu with Medvedev and Hu had some common features. Neither meeting produced any concrete outcome. Obama told the media that Russia and China would help place pressure on Iran over its nuclear program and that Medvedev and Hu agreed with him on the problem. But the Russians and the Chinese have since conveyed an entirely different position. No sooner had the Russian delegation taken off from Honolulu that Lavrov told the Russian press party that the latest IAEA report on Iran “contains nothing new” and provided no further evidence that Tehran was developing nuclear weapons. Lavrov caustically observed that the IAEA report seemed to “stir up passions in public opinion and prepare the ground for imposing some kind of unilateral sanctions” against Iran. He repeated Russia’s opposition to any new sanctions in addition to those already imposed by the UN and the US. Similarly, on Monday in Beijing, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman echoed Lavrov’s rejection of the sanctions route. He said:
Simply put, we believe pressuring, including blindly using economic sanctions, does not at all achieve the desired effect. From a long-term approach, we still want to resolve this problem through dialogue.
Again, Obama singled out Syria as one of the “world’s trouble spots” that he discussed with Medvedev, but the latter merely nodded that Syria was discussed alongside the “situation in the Middle East” and Afghanistan. However, the next day, a senior Russian military official maintained that Moscow would honor all its military contracts with Damascus and warned against a “repetition of the Libyan scenario” against Syria. Neither Obama nor Hu bothered to mention Syria in the recap of their meeting.