Humanitarian assistance is the top priority

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Civil war in Syria Humanitarian assistance is the top priority

For Chancellor Angela Merkel the priority is to alleviate the suffering of the people in Syria. Syrian and Russian airstrikes have made the situation even more disastrous, she said in Berlin. Angela Merkel announced that she would be broaching the issue with President Vladimir Putin at a meeting in Berlin on Wednesday.

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Chancellor Angela Merkel intends to use a Normandy format meeting to discuss the situation in Syria with Russian President Vladimir Putin, she announced on Tuesday during the visit of President Varela of Panama to Berlin.

The Chancellor and the French President François Hollande will be meeting the Russian and Ukrainian Presidents at the Federal Chancellery on Wednesday; this is known as the Normandy format. Their talks are to focus on the implementation of the Minsk agreements in eastern Ukraine.

Dialogue is necessary

It is only natural that she and the French President would be taking advantage of this opportunity to talk to the Russian President about the war in Syria, said Angela Merkel. "The humanitarian situation has become even more disastrous as a direct result of the Syrian and Russian airstrikes against defenceless people, hospitals and doctors."

Angela Merkel stressed that, in view of this situation, no options can be discounted – including sanctions. The top priority, however, must be to alleviate the suffering of the people "in some way". This is what she wants to discuss with President Vladimir Putin. "We cannot expect miracles," said the Chancellor. But it is always essential to talk, even when opinions diverge widely.

Pause in hostilities announced for Thursday

On Monday evening Syria and Russia announced an eight-hour pause in hostilities on Thursday. According to Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier this pause can only be a start.

Eight hours are not nearly enough to get the desperately needed humanitarian supplies to the people in the besieged areas of eastern Aleppo he said on Tuesday. "More can be done – and it is a humanitarian imperative to do more."

EU ministers of foreign affairs consult on Syria

Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has been discussing the situation in Syria with his EU counterparts within the framework of the Foreign Affairs Council. The UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, also flew to Luxembourg for the meeting on Monday.

Following intensive discussions the EU foreign ministers agreed on a joint statement. They had agreed that the top priority must first be to get humanitarian supplies though, reported Frank-Walter Steinmeier following the talks.

The UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, first gave the EU foreign ministers an overview of the status of negotiations and the talks held at the weekend. More talks are to follow in the course of the week, because negotiations are the only way forward, said Frank-Walter Steinmeier.