Germany warns Russia it must join talks if it wants financial help rebuilding war-torn Syria

Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said Russia cannot be a respected international partner while it tolerates pictures of 'children murdered by poison gas'

Click to follow
Indy Politics

Germany has warned Russia it must come to the negotiating table if it wants any other country to help bear the huge financial burden of rebuilding war-ravaged Syria.

The country’s Foreign Minister said it is impossible for Russia to alone pay for Syria's regeneration and that Moscow will have to ensure there are no more pictures of “children murdered by poison gas” if it wants to be a respected international partner.

Speaking following Boris Johnson’s failure to win strong backing for new sanctions on Russian and Syrian figures, German chief diplomat Sigmar Gabriel said there could be no “solution overnight” to the conflict.

His words also come as US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived in Moscow for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, aimed at convincing him to loosen his support for Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.

Mr Gabriel highlighted that there are things the West can offer Russia to entice it out of isolation on Syria.

He said: “Firstly, there would be no rebuilding of Syria as long as there is no change.

“Nobody would invest in Syria as long as there is war and civil war. Nobody would finance Mr Assad and Russia knows that it cannot carry this financial burden alone.

“Secondly, I believe that Russia wants to be a respected international partner. One could not stand on the side of a regime that – not for the first time – had used poisonous gas against its own civilian population.”

Boris Johnson: Syria chemical attack offers Russia a 'choice'

Mr Gabriel said he did not believe Russian politicians or civilians wish to see further “pictures of mothers and fathers carrying their children murdered by poison gas”, nor to see Russia supporting such a regime.

His words came after Britain’s failure to secure immediate support for sanctions at the G7 in Italy this week – in response to the Idlib chemical weapons attack – with allies Germany, the EU and Canada underlining the need for due process.

Asked about the sanctions, Mr Gabriel said: “One cannot not expect to come to a solution overnight after so many years of war.

“And Russia would not say ‘right, now we'll do things how you want’ from one day to the next. Instead a range of talks will be held.”

He called for the Geneva round of talks to be broadened to include Russia, the US, Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Mr Tillerson has landed in Moscow in the middle of the escalating row between the US and Russia over Syria.

Mr Putin has condemned a US missile attack on the Syrian airbase, which US President Donald Trump’s administration has said was the origin of the chemical weapons attack that killed around 100 civilians including many children in a rebel-held village. 

Comments