, BERLIN, Germany, Sep 28 – German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Friday she and the leaders of Turkey, Russia and France planned to hold a summit next month on the situation in war-ravaged Syria.
“We are in favour of a four-way meeting with the presidents of Turkey, Russia and France and myself because the situation (in Syria) is still fragile,” Merkel told reporters after talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“We aim to do this in the month of October.”
Merkel said the talks were particularly urgent in light of the fraught situation in Syria’s rebel-held province of Idlib.
Turkey has backed rebels seeking to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad but since late 2016 has been working increasingly closely with Iran and Russia to bring an end to the Syrian conflict.
Russia and Turkey agreed during a summit meeting in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi on September 17 to set up a buffer zone in Idlib aimed at preventing a military assault.
Syria, which has received vital military support from Russia and Iran, had said that it planned to seize Idlib, the last major rebel stronghold in the seven-year war.
The Russia-Turkey deal was agreed following warnings that an all-out military offensive would trigger a bloodbath in the province of three million people.
Erdogan had previously indicated that he planned to host a summit to discuss Syria on September 7 in Istanbul with Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Emmanuel Macron and Merkel but the meeting never came together.
Merkel praised Turkey’s “outstanding” work in hosting more than three million Syrian refugees.
Germany has taken in hundreds of thousands of Syrian asylum seekers — a policy that has proved deeply divisive within Merkel’s own government.