Untangling Syria: Europe's top diplomats mull new strategy

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

PARIS (AP) — The top diplomats of Britain, France, Germany and the European Union are sketching out a possible new diplomatic push to end the fighting in Syria.

Their meeting Thursday in Paris comes amid new jockeying by Russia and increased military action by France and Britain in the region. European officials are warning with new urgency that the refugee crisis now engulfing the continent has no hope of ending without a political solution in Syria.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she favored including Syrian President Bashar Assad at the negotiating table in the future.

"I think one has to speak with many actors. That includes Assad," she said Wednesday.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said previous attempts to resolve the crisis have failed.

"After five years of civil war, 250,000 dead, 12 million refugees, we now need to take a decisive step toward defusing the conflict," Steinmeier said.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Thursday's meeting aimed to lay the groundwork for more in-depth talks at the U.N. General Assembly, which begins Monday in New York.

But, Fabius said, "Bashar Assad cannot represent the future of a people in a country that he has martyred."


Sylvie Corbet in Paris and Frank Jordans in Berlin contributed.