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Syrian ceasefire with Russian backing key to peace talks

Need to maintain truce in war-torn country reaffirmed by European leaders as Merkel highlights Russia’s continued commitment

The Syrian ceasefire and its continued backing from Russia will help build a momentum behind peace talks in the war-torn country, European leaders have said.

The truce, which is broadly holding, began last weekend. The leaders of Russia, Germany, France, Italy and the UK held a conference call on Friday in which they agreed to use the “positive dynamic” to restart peace talks, a spokesperson for David Cameron said.

“The main point that the European leaders made on the call to [Russian president Vladimir] Putin was that we welcome the fact that this fragile truce appears to be holding,” the spokesman said. “We have got to use this as a positive dynamic now to create some momentum behind the talks … so we can move from a truce into a more lasting, durable peace with a political transition away from Assad.”

Angela Merkel said in a news conference with François Hollande that Putin had told the others during the phone conference that Moscow is fully committed to the truce.

The German chancellor said: “I would like to stress one more time that the commitment to hold the ceasefire was confirmed as a key message by the Russian president.”

The five-year Syrian civil war, which began with the aim of overthrowing Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, has killed more than 250,000 Syrians and millions more have been forced from their homes, creating a massive refugee crisis for Lebanon, Turkey and the European Union.

Read the full article on The Guardian website

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