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Nations call for political solution to Syria crisis

China Daily | Updated: 2018-10-29 09:08
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From left: Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and French President Emmanuel Macron during the summit to find a lasting political solution to the civil war in Syria. OZAN KOSE/AFP

Leaders end four-way summit with commitment to new future

The leaders of Turkey, Russia, France and Germany called for a political solution to Syria's devastating seven-year civil war and a lasting cease-fire in the rebel-held northwestern province of Idlib after a four-way summit held over the weekend.

Hosted by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the summit held in Istanbul was also attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron as the four leaders discussed the ways to achieve a long-lasting solution for Syria.

A joint statement adopted at the end of the summit said the countries were committed to working together in order to create conditions for peace and stability in Syria. The statement called for a committee to be established to draft Syria's post-war constitution before the end of the year to pave the way for free and fair elections in the war-torn country.

The leaders also reaffirmed their strongest opposition to the use of chemical weapons by any party in Syria, stressing that there was "the need to ensure humanitarian organizations' rapid, safe and unhindered access throughout Syria and immediate humanitarian assistance to reach all people in need".

The talks came after a week of escalating violence in Idlib on Friday, which on Friday claimed the lives of seven civilians, the highest death toll there since the fragile cease-fire began last month.

Following the joint news conference in Istanbul, the leaders spoke separately, with Macron urging Russia to pressure the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to bring about a "stable and lasting cease-fire in Idlib".

However, Putin warned that if "radicals" were to "launch armed provocations from the Idlib zone, Russia reserves the right to give active assistance to the Syrian government in liquidating this source of terrorist threat", according to the AFP.

Merkel, meanwhile, said the leaders "have the duty to prevent another humanitarian disaster".

"A solution cannot happen through military means but only through political negotiations under the leadership of the United Nations," she said.

Before the summit, Chinese envoy to the United Nations Ma Zhaoxu said on Friday that resolving the Syria issues require all parties to work together.

Ma said the international community should push for the revitalization of a Syrian-led and Syrian-owned political process in which Syria's sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity must be respected.

Thanks to the efforts of Syrians themselves and the support of the international community, the situation remains stable and a political settlement process has maintained momentum, he noted, adding that the future of Syria will ultimately be determined by its people.

China is ready to work with the international community to facilitate the political settlement and to improve the country's humanitarian situation, Ma said.

In a report by Xinhua News Agency, Sharif Shehadeh, a Syrian political expert and ex-parliamentarian, said that the summit could be the beginning of a roadmap to Syria's crisis, however, it won't be an easy beginning.

The main problem lies in the contradictory goals of the main parties, he said, adding that "the West must accept the ideas that the Syrian state cannot leave Idlib out of its control and Russia could have a new vision to resolve the situation in Idlib and in Syria in general".

Meanwhile, Wang Jin, a research fellow at the Syria Research Center of Northwest University in China, said that even though no major breakthrough was achieved in the statement, the summit could still be a step toward consensus.

Wang noted the participation of Germany and France is important as it could bring closer the European and Syrian views regarding the political solution through Russia.

AFP and Xinhua contributed to this story.

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