Germany, France urge Russia to play ‘constructive role’ in Syria

Germany and France called on Russia to play a constructive role in efforts to end Syria’s bloody civil war, by exercising its influence over Damascus to reach a political solution to the six-year conflict.

“We believe that Russia can play a constructive role,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said on Friday in Bonn, ahead of the resumption next week of Syrian peace talks in Geneva.

Ayrault echoed remarks by German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel.

The German and French foreign ministers met other members of the so-called Friends of Syria group in Bonn, on the sidelines of a meeting of the Group of 20 (G20) foreign ministers.

“Russia and Iran must call on Syria to stop seeing all members of the Syrian opposition as terrorists.

“So as to allow opposition representatives to take on an increased role in the UN-sponsored peace talks on the war-torn nation,’’ Ayrault said.

Initiated by France, Friends of Syria is an international group set up to find a solution to the Syrian conflict after Russia and China vetoed a UN’s resolution calling on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to join peace efforts.

The talks also included representatives from Germany, Italy, the U.S., Britain, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Turkey, the EU and Saudi Arabia, were held ahead of the formal session of G20 ministers.

Ayrault said that the election of a new U.S. administration had provided the opportunity to review the prospects of finding a way to end the conflict in Syria.

At their meeting in Bonn, the Friends of Syria group signalled they also planned to step up their drive to end the conflict by gathering as often as possible.

Egypt is also part of the Friends of Syria group, which began holding talks on Syria shortly after the start of the nation’s civil war in 2011.

It however, emerged from the Arab spring protests across the Middle East.