(CBS News) In Russia, President Obama is fighting to get the world on his side before attacking the Assad regime in Syria.
Syria still dominates discussions at the G-20 economic summit. At a dinner Thursday night, an intense debate raged over whether the United Nations Security Council had to approve military strikes against Syria, CBS News' Major Garrett reported on "CBS This Morning." President Obama argued that if nations like Russia blocked the action of the Security Council, then the international community must step forward and move. So far, the president has many listeners, but few takers.
President Obama met with Chinese President Xi Jinping, who doesn't support military strikes against Syria, but more than anything wants to stay out of the debate. White House officials said economics dominated discussions. But as with everything here, Syria lurks in the shadows. Mr. Obama said at the summit, "Although there will continue to be some significant disagreements and sources of tension, I'm confident that they can be managed."
The president has quietly lobbied leaders of the 20 largest global economies to punish Syria for using chemical weapons to kill nearly 1,500 civilians in late August. On that, Mr. Obama is walking a relatively lonely path. Close ally British Prime Minister David Cameron, still stung by Parliament's rejection of military support, will sit out any missile strikes. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, near the end of a re-election campaign, said Germany, too, will stay on the sidelines. France is on board and Mr. Obama will huddle with its President Francois Hollande later Friday.
Publicly, Mr. Obama and summit host and Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared cordial. But the White House knows Putin, a staunch Syrian ally, wields a veto that could block any United Nations Security Council action against Syria. At the United Nations, U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power lowered the boom. Powers said, "Russia continues to hold the council hostage and shirk its international responsibilities, including as a party to the Chemical Weapons Convention."
Even though all five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council are attending the summit, the G-20 will issue no statement on what to next about Syria. President Obama will take questions about his intentions to use military action against Syria and his push for congressional approval.
For Major Garrett's full report, watch the video above.