Cameron, Merkel, Hollande to discuss Syria with Putin on March 4: UK
LONDON – Agence France Presse
REUTERS photoBritish Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will discuss the ceasefire in Syria with Russian President Vladimir Putin in a conference call on March 4, Downing Street said.
“Tomorrow is an opportunity for the leaders of the UK, France and Germany to come together... and make very clear to President Putin that we need this ceasefire to hold, to be a lasting one and to open the way for a real political transition,” Cameron’s spokeswoman told reporters on March 3.
The fragile truce that came into force last week is the first major cessation of hostilities in the five-year civil war that has claimed more than 270,000 lives.
The agreement calls for the cessation of hostilities between the forces of Russian-backed President Bashar al-Assad and opposition groups, but it does not cover jihadist groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Nusra Front.
Speaking in parliament on March 2, Cameron said the ceasefire was “an important step forward, imperfect as it is,” as it opened the way to the prospect of political negotiations.
Syria’s government and rebels are due re-start peace talks on March 9 if the ceasefire holds.
Meanwhile, France and Britain called on the Syrian government and its Russian ally to immediately end attacks on Western-backed rebels, saying all sides had to fully implement a cessation of hostilities deal and allow unfettered access to besieged areas.
“We ask all sides that are committing human rights violations, including Russia and the Syrian regime, to put an immediate end to the attacks against moderate opposition groups,” a joint statement after a Franco-British summit said, Reuters reported.
It added that all attacks against civilians and medical personnel also had to stop and that the Syrian government and its allies should stop their “march to Aleppo, which compromised peace prospects and threaten to dramatically worsen the refugee crisis and benefit ISIL.”
On the same day, UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura said that visible progress was being made on the country’s landmark ceasefire, after a sharp drop was reported in the number of civilians dying every day.