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Russia's role in Syria crisis scrutinised at EU foreign ministers meeting

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Russia's role in Syria crisis scrutinised at EU foreign ministers meeting



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The Syria crisis and Russia’s involvement are topping the agenda of an EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg.

It comes as questions mount over Moscow’s military strikes.

Ministers arriving in Luxembourg said they were concerned about the situation in Syria and agreed that dialogue is needed.

“From a military point of view, it would be very bad – indeed fatal – if tens or hundreds of thousands more Syrians become refugees because of uncoordinated bombardments,” said Jean Asselborn, Luxembourg Foreign Minister.

Moscow has been accused of attacking mainly “moderate” groups in Syria, who are against President Bashar al-Assad – rather than ISIL militants. Russia denies this is its strategy.

“Russia isn’t hitting Daesh and Russia supports Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Therefore, we ask – and this is what we will say clearly in the conclusions that we adopt – that Russia contributes towards a political solution,” said Harlem Désir, French Secretary of State for European Affairs.

Arriving in Luxembourg, Britain’s foreign minister said Syria’s future must be one without Assad. Philip Hammond said he is flexible about how the president leaves – but he must go.

“We cannot work with Assad as the long term solution for the future of Syria. We can be flexible about the manner of his departure, we can be flexible about the timing of his departure. But if we try to work with Assad, we will only drive the opposition into the arms of ISIL,” Hammond told reporters.

But, according to draft conclusions, it seems EU foreign ministers are likely to stop short of calling for an immediate effort to remove Assad from power.


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