• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Germany praises 'new hope for Syria' after Munich talks
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (l) and refugees in northern Syria near the Turkish border (r). Photo: DPA

Germany praises 'new hope for Syria' after Munich talks

DPA/The Local · 12 Feb 2016, 08:38

Published: 12 Feb 2016 08:38 GMT+01:00

"Today there was a deal that we will immediately begin a significant reduction in violence," Steinmeier told journalists after talks between the US, Russia and other interested nations that continued into the early hours.

"That should flow into an end to battle activities within a week."

The German Foreign Ministry's Twitter account spoke of "new hope" and "real perspectives" for the people of Syria.

The deal struck on Thursday night may open the way for a ceasefire between troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is supported by Russia, and opposition fighters.

But attacks on terror group Islamic State would be allowed to continue, Steinmeier added.

The agreement also includes provisions for continued attacks on Al Nusra, an Islamist group affiliated with al Qaeda.

"We'll have to see whether something really happens," a spokesman for the opposition's joint High Negotiations Committee (HNC) said.

"If something happens and if the agreement is implemented, then we will see one another very soon in Geneva [to resume suspended peace talks]," he said.

Talks in Geneva were broken off a week ago after just a few days.

The HNC said it could not sit at the table while Russian aircraft supported a massive regime attack on the city of Aleppo that has sent tens of thousands of people fleeing for the Turkish border.

"The real test will be whether all members of the group stick to their commitments in reality," US Secretary of State John Kerry said.

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said implementing the deal would be "a complicated task," with "too many forces that are involved in military activities."

Trustworthy partner?

But Western countries accuse Russia of bombing civilians in Syria as its air force is deployed to support the Assad regime against opposition groups.

Exceptions to the ceasefire for Islamic fundamentalist groups Isis and al-Nusra may allow Russia and Assad to continue their operations against other opposition fighters, as they have claimed to be fighting Islamists while bombing less extremist enemies in the past.

Some media have also reported sightings of Russian ground troops joining the fighting.

And there was no agreement on Thursday on the future of Assad as President of Syria. Western countries insist that he must be removed, while the Russians hope to keep him in place.

"We know the experiences of the past," Steinmeier said, "that's why I'm not talking about a breakthrough today. It will have to come to light in the coming days whether or not it's a breakthrough."

The German Foreign Minister is a veteran of high-stakes talks with Lavrov and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Over the past two years, Germany has taken a leading role in attempts to defuse the long-running Ukraine crisis – which have often been set back by Russian double-dealing.

Opening for humanitarians

If the ceasefire does come to pass against all the odds, local powers including Iran and Saudi Arabia have promised to begin delivering aid to the people of Syria.

Story continues below…

"Everyone was agreed about the urgency for humanitarian aid," Kerry said.

A new task force at the United Nations in Geneva will be put in charge of organizing access for aid convoys, Steinmeier said.

The task is huge after five years of civil war in which more than 250,000 people have lost their lives and millions have been driven to flee their homes, either within Syria's borders, to neighbouring countries, or to Europe.

Many parts of the country are completely cut off from outside help.

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Today's headlines
Five years' jail for German darknet weapons dealer
Photo: DPA

He had sold weapons to known Isis-sympathizers and far-right extremists.

Prickly Bavarian calls out cops on hedgehogs' noisy sex
Photo: DPA

Caught in the act.

International or German state school - which one's best?
Photo: DPA

Deciding between sending your child to a German state school or a private international school isn't easy. Max Bringmann has experienced both.

13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make

Sure-fire ways to get off on the wrong foot in the German language.

Captain Schweinsteiger retires from international football
Bastian Schweinsteiger. Photo: DPA

He has won a World Cup with Die Mannschaft and captained them at Euro 2016. On Friday Bastian Schweinsteiger announced his retirement from the national team.

Woman accused of false rape allegation at Cologne NYE
Cologne on New Year's Eve. Photo: DPA

According to latest reports, the woman was not even in Cologne on New Year's Eve.

Govt argues over using army inside Germany
Photo: DPA

After a string of violent rampages in one week, an argument has broken out in Germany’s coalition government over whether the army (Bundeswehr) should be deployed inside the country.

Analysis
How Merkel reacts to crises better than other leaders
Photo: DPA

It is of critical importance for a country how a leader chooses to react to an act of terrorism. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cool head sets an example for the rest of the country.

Turkey demands Germany extradite Gülen supporters
Fethullah Gülen. Photo: DPA

Ankara called on Germany on Thursday to extradite supporters of Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen, whom the Turkish government accuses of plotting a failed coup earlier this month.

German police raid 'hotbed of radicalization'
Police entering one of the residences. Photo: DPA

A mosque and eight residences were searched.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Travel
Enter if you dare: Berlin's best abandoned haunts
DPA
Gallery
IN PICTURES: How Munich responded to shooting spree
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
Bavaria train attack: Were police right to shoot to kill?
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
National
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Technology
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
Travel
Six soothing day trips to escape the bustle of Berlin
International
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Features
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Sponsored Article
Health insurance for expats in Germany: a quick guide
Features
How two gay dads cut through German red tape to start a family
National
Five things to know about guns in Germany
Culture
10 things you need to know before attending a German wedding
National
Eight weird habits you'll pick up living in Germany
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Lifestyle
Six reasons 'super-cool' Berlin isn't all it's cracked up to be
Society
Only one country likes getting naked on the beach more than Germany
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Lifestyle
23 ridiculously fascinating things you never knew about Berlin
Culture
8 German words that perfectly sum up your 20s
Lifestyle
Can't make it past the door at Berlin's most famous club? Help is at hand
Business & Money
Why Frankfurt could steal London's crown as Europe's finance capital
Features
6 surprising things I learned about Germany while editing The Local
10,747
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd