HANOVER, GERMANY: US President Barack Obama said during a visit to Germany on Sunday that he was “deeply concerned” about a surge in violence in Syria, where government forces have stepped up bombing of rebel-held areas around the strategic city of Aleppo.
Speaking after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a 17th century palace near the northern city of Hanover, Obama spoke of a “tragic humanitarian crisis” in Syria and said he continued to believe in a political solution to the fighting there.
Germany is the last stop on a six-day foreign tour where Obama has sought to shore up US alliances he views as important to increase trade, defeat Islamic State militants and counter Russian intervention in both Syria and Ukraine.
“We remain deeply concerned about the upsurge in fighting in Syria over the last several days, and we continue to agree that the only real durable solution is a political solution that moves Syria towards an inclusive government that represents all Syrians,” Obama said.
Merkel urged parties to peace talks in Geneva, which are at risk of collapse, to agree humanitarian zones where fleeing Syrians could feel free from bombardment.
She and Obama made clear that they did not favour the creation of classical “safe zones” which would need to be protected by foreign forces.
The two leaders, who have developed a strong, pragmatic relationship after a rocky start in which Merkel refused to allow Obama, then a senator campaigning for the presidency, to speak at the Brandenburg Gate in 2008, touched on a range of issues, including Ukraine, North Korea, Libya and free trade talks.
Obama praised Merkel for her “steady leadership” and handling of Europe´s refugee crisis, saying her decision last year to welcome hundreds of thousands of migrants to Germany had put her “on the right side of history”.
He joked that Merkel, who lacks his easy-going charm, had a “really good sense of humour” that she didn´t necessarily always share in public, drawing chuckles from the 61-year-old chancellor.
Courtesy : TheNews