Syrian opposition chief talks future of war-torn nation with German FM
While most European nations have been unwilling to let in refugees fleeing the 4 year conflict in Syria, Germany is an exception
The chief of the main western-backed Syrian opposition met on Wednesday in the German capital Berlin with Germany’s foreign minister, discussing the situation of Syrian refugees in Germany and the road ahead for Syria without President Bashar al-Assad, according to press release from the opposition group.
Syrian National Coalition chief Khaled Khoja, who was elected in January, thanked German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier for the country’s resettlement of Syrian refugees, and for his country’s support for a moderate political opposition.
While most European nations have been unwilling to let in refugees fleeing the 4 year conflict in Syria, Germany is an exception: it has already accepted 6,000 Syrian refugees and has pledged to take up to 20,000.
During their meeting, Khoja and Steinmeier “agreed that a comprehensive approach is urgently required to defeat [the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group] and address the root cause of the extremism through a political transition to a future Syria without Bashar al-Assad,” according to the press release.
“Without a revived approach, our international partners will inevitably need to deploy ground forces to protect western security from the extremist chaos that Assad has created,” Khoja was quoted as saying after his meeting with the German foreign minister, adding that a step forward urged by the opposition group was a no-fly zone to avoid civilian casualties.
While the United States still wants a negotiated political settlement in Syria that excludes Assad, according to a senior U.S. envoy, Washington’s close ally Germany said talks with the Damascus government might still be necessary.
As Steinmeier hosted talks of the coalition against ISIS on the same day as his meeting with Khoja, which included the U.S. special envoy John Allen, the pair appeared to contradict each other on how to handle Assad’s government, Reuters reported.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry raised concerns among Middle East allies who want Assad removed when he said on Sunday that the United States would have to negotiate with the Syrian president, who has been fighting Islamist and other rebels since 2011.
The U.S. State Department that Kerry heads later maintained that he had not specifically referred to the Syrian leader, and that Washington would never bargain with him.
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