US, Russia urged to cooperate to help Syria conflict

AFP , Friday 9 Oct 2015

German Foreign Minister and his Spanish Counterpart
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (L) and Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo attend a joint news conference at the Foreign Ministry in Madrid October 9, 2015. (Photo: Reuters)

Germany and Spain on Friday urged Washington and Moscow to work together to help unlock a political solution to the Syrian war, after Russian air strikes there raised tensions.

"The current priority is to seek agreement between the United States and Russia," German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in Madrid.

"We will not manage to launch a political process (in Syria) while the two great world powers are in disagreement," he told a news conference alongside Spanish counterpart Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo.

"Despite the current military action in Syria, it seems to me that the United States and Russia still have common interests and I implore them to keep talking to each other."

Steinmeier said negotiations to end the Syrian war should aim to preserve territorial integrity, set up a secular state with respect for religious minorities and establish a transitional government while remnants of the country's institutions still survive.

Russia has been carrying out air strikes since September 30 which it says are hitting "terrorist" targets in Syria such as the armed extremist group Islamic State.

The United States and its allies say however that Russia has also been targeting other groups opposed to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, which they say strengthens his regime.

Garcia-Margallo said "all actors" concerned by the Syrian conflict should work together.

"It is important that Turkey and Saudi Arabia on the one hand, and Iran on the other, collaborate, and it is important to look for ways for Russia and the United States to cooperate to fight the enemy," he said.

"The German and Spanish governments agree that Assad cannot be part of the definitive solution, given his criminal record."

Syria's civil war has killed more than 240,000 people since 2011 and has displaced millions.

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