LONDON (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin questioned on Sunday why the West would want to arm Syrian rebels who he said ate human organs, saying plans to give them weapons contradicted basic human values.
Speaking after meeting British Prime Minister David Cameron in London ahead of a G-8 summit on Monday, Mr Putin said both the Syrian government and Syrian rebels were to blame for the bloodshed.
In his first public comments since a decision by United States President Barack Obama's administration to arm rebels trying to overthrow Mr Assad, Mr Putin said Russia wanted to create the conditions for settling the two-year conflict.
"I think you will not deny that one does not really need to support the people who not only kill their enemies, but open up their bodies, eat their intestines, in front of the public and cameras," Mr Putin said at a joint news conference in London with Mr Cameron.
"Are these the people you want to support? Is it them who you want to supply with weapons? Then this probably has little relation to humanitarian values that have been preached in Europe for hundreds of years."
Mr Putin was referring to disturbing video footage on the Internet of one rebel fighter eating what appeared to be the heart of a government soldier.
The talks followed a decision by Mr Obama's administration to arm rebels trying to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad after it said it had obtained proof that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons.
The Russian leader, who arrived an hour late for the talks, said he wanted to help broker a peace deal for Syria, saying he hoped the G-8 summit in Northern Ireland could help advance that process.
But Mr Cameron said big differences over how to best achieve that aim remained between Britain and Russia.
"There are very big differences between the analysis we have of what happened in Syria and who is to blame but where there is common ground is that we both see a humanitarian catastrophe", he said.
However, Mr Cameron added he thought the differences were not insurmountable.
"What I take from our conversation today is that we can overcome these differences if we recognise that we share some fundamental aims: to end the conflict, to stop Syria breaking
apart, to let the Syrian people decide who governs them and to take the fight to the extremists and defeat them," he said.