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Merkel, Hollande urge Putin to push for Syria ceasefire

The phone talks came a day after Putin called off a planned visit to Paris in a row over Syria, where Moscow is backing a regime onslaught on the battered city of Aleppo

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande urged Russian President Vladimir Putin in a telephone call Wednesday to push for a ceasefire in Syria, sources in the French presidency said.

Hollande took advantage of a three-way conversation on the conflict in Ukraine to “reiterate his position on the urgency of a ceasefire and access to humanitarian aid in Syria,” the sources said, adding that he was “clearly supported by the chancellor.”

The phone talks came a day after Putin called off a planned visit to Paris in a row over Syria, where Moscow is backing a regime onslaught on the battered city of Aleppo.

Putin had been due to inaugurate a spiritual center next to a new Russian Orthodox church in Paris, but Hollande insisted his Russian counterpart should also take part in talks with him about Syria.

Push to break Security Council deadlock

Meanwhile, New Zealand on Wednesday gave the 15-member United Nations Security Council a draft resolution that would demand an end to all attacks that may kill civilians in Syria, particularly air strikes in Aleppo, just days after Russia vetoed a similar text.

Russia on Saturday vetoed a French draft resolution that would have demanded an end to “all aerial bombardments of and military flights over Aleppo city.” A similar rival Russian text, which did not include that demand, was voted on straight after the French text, but failed to get enough votes.

The New Zealand draft resolution, seen by Reuters, demands an “end to all attacks which may result in the death or injury of civilians or damage to civilian objects in Syria, in particular those carried out by air in Aleppo.”

The New Zealand draft text was likely to be discussed by council envoys at a lunch with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday, diplomats said, adding that the aim was to see if a vote could be taken within a week or so.

(With Reuters inputs)