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Merkel and Putin: tackle Syria with politics

The Local · 1 Jun 2012, 15:51

Published: 01 Jun 2012 15:51 GMT+02:00

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"We both made clear that we are pushing for a political solution, that the Annan plan can be a starting point but that everything must be done in the United Nations Security Council to implement this plan," Merkel said, referring to the peace plan being mediated by UN special envoy Kofi Annan.

Speaking to reporters, Putin ruled out a military intervention to stop the bloodshed in Syria. "You cannot do anything with force," he said.

Putin said the deadly strife in Syria risked tearing the country in two. "Today we are seeing emerging elements of civil war," he told reporters. "It is extremely dangerous." But he hit back at suggestions Moscow was supplying arms for use in Syria, saying his country did not deliver weapons to be deployed in civil conflicts.

The president, on his first trip to the West since returning to the Kremlin for a third term, insisted his country was not siding with President Bashar al-Assad's regime against the opposition. "We are supporting neither side from which the danger of civil war is coming," he said. And he stressed that a negotiated solution was the only answer to the crisis.

"This is what we talked about with the German chancellor - to find a political solution to these problems. Can it be done or not? On the whole, I believe it is possible," he said. "It requires certain professionalism and patience. You cannot do anything by force and expect an immediate effect. A lot of people are involved in the conflict with various interests," he said. "There is a need to find a convergence of these interests and have them sit down at a negotiating table. That's the direction we are going to work in."

He said that Moscow was interested in keeping the lines of communication to Damascus open. "It goes without saying that we will be in touch with President Assad and the Syrian leadership."

The meeting came amid mounting pressure for Moscow to drop its resistance to tougher UN action on Syria. Putin was to meet new French President Francois Hollande in Paris later Friday.

Earlier, Merkel greeted Putin with military honours on a red carpet outside her offices in central Berlin as demonstrators waving Syrian flags shouted and whistled. One protestor held a banner resembling a Russian flag with the words "Putin is a thief" in Russian emblazoned across it.

The brief trips to Berlin and Paris come amid mounting anger in the West against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime after a massacre in the town of Houla last week. Germany, France, Britain, the United States and other Western nations expelled Syrian diplomats in protest at the slaughter of 108 people, including women and children, many of whom were summarily executed, according to the UN.

Commercial ties between Germany and Russia have grown strongly in recent years despite criticism of Russia's human rights record.

The head of Russian gas giant Gazprom, Alexei Miller said on Thursday that his company had hired German football superstar Franz Beckenbauer as sports ambassador for Russia. The 66-year-old is to promote major sporting events in Russia, which is to host the Winter Olympics in 2014 as well as the football World Cup in 2018.

Story continues below…

Beckenbauer's office confirmed that he had agreed to an agreement for "several years" with the organization of Russian gas producers (RGO), which is led by Gazprom. Beckenbauer, who is honorary president of Bayern Munich, said during a RGO meeting in Slovenia, that he could foresee changes at his club. "Bayern Munich's team bus will perhaps be driven with gas instead of petrol at some time in the future," Beckenbauer quipped.

Gazprom, which sponsors Bundesliga club Schalke 04, also have an agreement with former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

16:43 June 1, 2012 by raandy
I agree with the stance of non military intervention, Czar Putin should have used that same rhetoric before invading Georgia, with his military.
05:47 June 2, 2012 by Bill Simpson
I doubt the Saudis will be as 'patient'.
07:15 June 2, 2012 by independnece
Death toll multiplying in Syria!

If the international community does not take action against Syria, including military intervention, the number of death toll is predicted to increase multi-fold.


12:52 June 2, 2012 by Leo Strauss
Vladimir Putin was a KGB boss and will forever be a sneaky and dangerous man, who should be eternally portrayed in the press as evil. He is the Schwarzer Mann, or Chort, if you like. It is very important that people believe that he started the 2008 war in South Ossetia, so I applaud the poster above who has reminded us of this fact. If you believe this already then for goodness sakes do not look further than your television and do not trust anyone who claims otherwise. Some very irresponsible individuals have suggested that it was the Georgians who struck first, launching an undeclared massive offensive which killed many Russian peace-keepers and South Ossetian civilians in cold blood. Some even claim that the then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, was President, when we all know that it was really Putin. If someone tells you that Putin was actually Prime Minister at the time, simply ignore this fool.

Paka Putin- Ti eta plaha!
13:06 June 2, 2012 by smart2012
And then merkel does not want to attend soccer European championship. But deal with gazprom is ok.....
13:35 June 2, 2012 by Leo Strauss

Please, please, I implore you to keep your posts as manichean as possible. Don`t complicate things with such details, wherever you may have found such propaganda. Putin bad + Merkel good! You can imagine how the other posters might feel, were I to add to your post that Gary Kasparov is at this very moment at the Bilderberg Conference in the US receiving his orders. If western hypocrisy and conspiracy were to exist, and I do not subscribe to this, then perhaps it is not something for general consumption.
15:02 June 2, 2012 by smart2012
Hei Leo strauss, I did not mention anything about conspiracy, u said it. But hypocrisy yes, this is the right word. Merkel is on the side of Putin just because dependency on gas. Gazprom even sponsoring schalke
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