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TODAY   |  June 17, 2013

Obama, world leaders to talk Syria at G-8 summit

President Obama has landed in Belfast, Northern Ireland, for this year’s G-8 summit, where he and most of the nation’s western allies are expected to discuss propping up Syrian opposition in the country’s civil war. NBC’s Chuck Todd reports.

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>>> awkwardness if not tension as these leaders converge in the uk amid allegations that there was spying during the g-20 in 2009 .

>> there will be real tension and we'll get to that in a minute but in talking to senior administration officials about this, they have their oh, nothing to see here and they're shocked that that's going on between countries. countries do this to each other all the time. this is what happens at summits, this is what happens at negotiations. but that said, given what has happened and these summits, particularly the 1-on-1 relation ships between leaders are about trust so to add a level of distrust, particularly between the russians and there's a light hearted story about putin stealing a super bowl ring but i'm sure he won't be happy to hear the u.s. was involved in eaves dropping on his predecessor.

>> they talk about syria and that has to be some of the primary work of the summit as they go on these couple of days.

>> it is. the dominant issue of the summit will be syria . it's a g- 8 but it's really a g-7 and 1. it will have a cold war atmosphere when president obama and putin have their 1-on-1 because they have a big disagreement over what to do about syria .

>> reporter: after touching down, the president's first order of business, a speech to a mostly younger audience for north ireland 's future.

>> every single one of you possess something your generation before you did not. that's an example to follow. when those that took a chance on peace got started they didn't have a successful model to emulate. they didn't know how it would work.

>> reporter: but the real focus of the quick trip is the g-8 summit as the u.s. and most of it's western allies try to prop up the country's two year civil war . tensions could run high between g-7 and russia as putin stuck by syria 's leader. he met with david cameron and his comments after that meeting may foreshadow a cold war -like exchange over syria when they meet later today.

>> supply weapons to the government in regards of who has the blood of the children and peaceful citizens of syria , i believe you will not deny that the hands are on both of the parties.

>>> president obama is a reluctant supporter of arming the opposition and getting plenty of heat from congress.

>> this is about whether or not we exert american leadership with our allies abroad both in the gulf region and in europe.

>> last year he was isolated. he had very few friends. he was hanging by a thread . this year he is entrenched in hezbollah, iran and russia.

>> the economy is taking a rare backseat at the summit. partly a reflection of the slow and steady recovery but how they pay taxes to the big 8 countries is likely to be a big issue. matt.