Merkel says Assad must be involved in Syria talks

Angela Merkel
Angela Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel leaves after a press conference on Sept. 23 in Brussels.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday that President Bashar al-Assad should be involved in any Syrian peace talks, amid mounting pressure to end the four-year conflict.

“We have to speak with many actors, this includes Assad, but others as well,” Merkel told a press conference after an EU summit on the migration crisis sparked by the Syrian war.

“Not only with the United States of America, Russia, but with important regional partners, Iran, and Sunni countries such as Saudi Arabia,” Merkel added.

The comments by the leader of Europe’s biggest political and economic power come amid increasing signs that Western powers who were once insistent on Assad’s departure may be softening their positions in a bid to end the war.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Saturday that although Assad must step down, that need not immediately be upon reaching a settlement to end the country’s civil war.

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has made similar comments.

But French President Francois Hollande, whose country is set to launch air strikes against ISIS militants in Syria, insisted on Thursday that there could be no place for Assad.

“There can be no transition without his departure,” Hollande insisted after the summit. “The future of Syria will not pass through Bashar Assad.”


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