Merkel and Macron seek political solution on Syria

The leaders of Germany and France told Russia's President Vladimir Putin on Thursday they want to meet him and Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to find a political solution to the crisis in Syria, news wires reported.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Emmanuel Macron spoke together by phone with the Russian leader while at a EU summit in Brussels. Expressing concern over the humanitarian catastrophe for residents of Idlib province, they both demanded an instant end of the fighting and the possibility of humanitarian aid for the people, Merkel's office said.

A months-long offensive by Russia-backed Syrian troops against rebels backed by Turkey in northwest Idlib has seen close to 1 million civilians flee the violence. The UN urged neighbouring Turkey to admit the new displaced people but Ankara is resisting as it already has some 3.7 million Syrians on its territory.

Russia on Wednesday objected to the UN Security Council adopting a statement that would have called for a ceasefire in Idlib, diplomats said, after a tense closed-door meeting.

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