Merkel, Putin urge 'political solution' for Syria

Merkel, Putin urge 'political solution' for Syria
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin want a political solution to the crisis in Syria, the two leaders said on Friday.

They were speaking at a joint news conference in Berlin. It was Putin’s first visit to Germany since he returned to the top job at the Kremlin last month.

Western perceptions that Moscow is blocking diplomatic efforts to isolate the Assad regime were high on the agenda.

“The latest massacre in Houla showed once again how terrible the human and human rights situation is in Syria,” Merkel said at a joint news conference with Putin after talks in Berlin.

“We both made clear that we want a political solution, and that the Annan plan can be a starting point, but we must work with all our energy and force, particularly in the UN Security Council, on implementing this plan and if necessary developing other political actions.

Putin rejected suggestions that Moscow is propping up Assad’s rule in Syria.

“We held a longstanding and good relationship with Syria but we do not support any side from which the threat of civil war may emerge,” he said in a veiled reference to Syria’s armed opposition.

Merkel’s cautious approach contrasts with French President Francois Hollande, who has refused to rule out military action.

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