Merkel discusses ‘catastrophic’ humanitarian situation with Putin
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Sunday urged Russia to finalise a ceasefire agreement on Syria with the US and stressed the urgency of delivering humanitarian aid to people under siege in Aleppo.
"The USA has made its offer. Russia can now show that it is genuinely interested in seeing an end to the fighting in Syria," Steinmeier told FUNKE Mediengruppe, a German newspaper group, in an interview to be published in Monday editions.
"Even Russia cannot have an interest in seeing the fighting continue in Syria. Moscow knows, like everyone else, that there is no military solution for the conflict in Syria," he said.
Steinmeier, a Social Democrat, has frustrated members of his own right-centre ruling coalition by insisting on the need for continued engagement with Russia. He said that ending the fighting in Syria was not solely up to Moscow, but "also other players inside and outside Syria who just want to keep fighting".
Chancellor Angela Merkel also discussed the "catastrophic" humanitarian situation in Syria with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a nearly two-hour meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit, a German government spokesman said.
Speaking in Oslo on Sunday evening, Steinmeier told reporters that a ceasefire in Aleppo was the prerequisite for the Syrian opposition to agree to return to negotiations.
"This is the only condition under which the opposition ... will be ready to return to Geneva for the political talks," he said.
Steinmeier added his hope that U.S. and Russian officials would make progress on the issue during bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the G20 summit in China.